Think about it for a moment. The right wing gillionaires who’ve led the fight against affordable health care in this country had their marketing mavens work long and hard to coin this phrase, which has typically been used by the talking heads over at Fox in a manner that makes it sound like they're spitting something nasty out of their mouths. The phrasing has the additional value of reminding those crackers out their who were apoplectic over the election of a black man as president to stay angry at the world.
By characterizing the health care law as “Obamacare” the news media (and even some politicos who ought to know better) are carrying water for the right wingers who have used every dirty trick in the book to defeat, undermine or repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. Even just saying the “Health Care Act” is fine. The right has spent twenty years fighting any semblance of a national policy on health care for one good reason: once people see the benefits of a rational care system (and the one under discussion here barely qualifies), they are less inclined to buy into the meme that all government is bad that is at the core of the right wing’s philosophy. So. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Don’t say or write the world. It’s lazy. And it’s wrong. Got it? Thank you!
White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe has called upon Dems on the Hill to turn the rhetorical battles over the Supreme Court’s decision to their advantage:
“As reported in the Washington Post, independent analysis shows that the House Republican Budget will give huge tax cuts to the wealthy while raising taxes on the middle class. After overa decade of watching the security of the middle class erode, Republicans in Congress are determined to return to the exact same policies that led to the economic crisis. The President refuses to settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. There is a fundamental difference between what the President’s tax policies do for the middle class and what Republicans in Congress have voted for and plan to do.
Below are the key points for driving this argument in the coming months:
**If Republicans want to talk about taxes then we’re happy to have that debate. And there’s a very clear choice.All theses talking points are for naught if we’re using the right’s phraseology. Their fight is about using people’s personal issues as hot buttons in this war of words. They’ve been at it for twenty years and they’re dammed good at it.
**President Obama has cut taxes by $3,600 for the typical middle class family. Republican plans will raise taxes on middle class families to give millionaires and billionaires a $250,000 tax cut.
**The facts are clear: the health care law provides a significant tax cut averaging about $4,000 for more than 18 million middle class people and families—a tax cut Republicans in Washington are vowing to repeal, socking it to the middle class once again.
**For those that can afford health insurance but stay uninsured—forcing the rest of us to subsidize their care for free—a penalty is administered. This is estimated by the CBO to affect 1% of the population. It is modeled on the health reform Governor Romney signed into law, where less than 1% have been affected by the Massachusetts penalty.
**The bottom line is this though: the Court has issued a clear and final ruling on this law.
**The last thing Congress should do is re-fight old political battles and start over on health care by raising taxes on the middle class and repealing the entire law. As we implement this law, we should improve it where we can and give States more flexibility.
Paul Krugman wrote wonderfully about the right’s campaign of lies and distortion on health care in yesterday’s New York Times:
At one level, the most striking thing about the campaign against reform was its dishonesty. Remember “death panels”? Remember how reform’s opponents would, in the same breath, accuse Mr. Obama of promoting big government and denounce him for cutting Medicare? Politics ain’t beanbag, but, even in these partisan times, the unscrupulous nature of the campaign against reform was exceptional. And, rest assured, all the old lies and probably a bunch of new ones will be rolled out again in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision. Let’s hope the Democrats are ready.For a little background on the GOP campaign and its origins, we turn to Jon Perr, writing at the blog Crooks and Liars and here on Daily Kos:
But what was and is really striking about the anti-reformers is their cruelty. It would be one thing if, at any point, they had offered any hint of an alternative proposal to help Americans with pre-existing conditions, Americans who simply can’t afford expensive individual insurance, Americans who lose coverage along with their jobs. But it has long been obvious that the opposition’s goal is simply to kill reform, never mind the human consequences. We should all be thankful that, for the moment at least, that effort has failed.
For GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell the battle to “kill it and start over” wasn’t merely about ensuring that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” For twenty years, Republicans have feared not that health care reform would fail the American people, but that it would succeed. To put it another way, the GOP was never really concerned about a “government takeover of health care”, “rationing”, “the doctor-patient relationship” or mythical “death panels,” but that an American public grateful for access to health care could provide Democrats with an enduring majority for years to come…Moving back to the real world, here’s Massachusetts healthcare CEO Jim Roosevelttalking about the impact that Romney’s health care act (very much like the Affordable Health Care Act, except that it pays for abortions) has had on that state:
Senate Minority Leader McConnell, who previously denied that 47 million Americans “go without health care” because they can go to the emergency room, repeated his mantra that “all of us want reform, but not reform that denies, delays, or rations health care”. “Death panels” became Politifact’s 2009 Lie of the Year. In 2010, that bogus GOP talking point lost its title to another, “government takeover of health care
“Here in Massachusetts we have been living with a plan that’s not identical but very similar to this and we’ve seen economic growth ahead of the rest of the country since this happened here. [Emphasis mine] We’ve also seen very good access to providers, says Roosevelt. “Providers have learned and are continuing to learn to provide health care not by doing more but by doing the right things. And that’s what this law will encourage nationwide.”In a perfect world, I’d rather see a Single Payer health care program. But I’ll be dammed if I’m going to sit back and let the right wing take away the limited coverage that the Affordable Health Care Act offers. And talking with Republicans about “fixing” the “flaws” in the program makes no sense as long as their health care program amounts to “Don’t Get Sick”. And in the meantime, let’s not use that word. There’s no sense in giving ammunition to assholes.
A different version of this story appeared in my Daily Column (M-F) at SanDiegoFreePress.org