Republicans are famed for their ability to create 2 or 3 word slogans that provide a frame for a public policy debate around a carefully crafted and focus-grouped terms. Some famous examples are "Nest egg" which was widely used in the Bush War on Social Security. "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in the run-up to the Iraq War. "Clean Skies Initiative" when attacking the EPA. "Government takeover" when fighting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Mr. Frank Luntz has been the leading proponent of this framing war with Democrats everywhere, and he is undoubtedly a master of the trade, without peer on the right or left side of the political continuum.
The Republicans are about to experience a failure of framing of epic proportions, and it is likely to last for 75 years or more. The term in question is Obamacare.
Ever since President Obama was elected, the Republicans have chosen to fight the PPACA and they have chosen to frame it as Obamacare, taking a cue from their successful fight 20 years ago against what they dubbed Hillarycare. The Clinton administration health care initiative was effectively fought and defeated by the Republicans, which demonstrates, now, a 30 year Republican opposition to the thought that the American people have a right to at least a minimal level of health care, preventive services, prenatal care for mothers, cancer screening for all, coverage of pre-existing conditions and all the other things that people in nearly every other industrialized nation on earth accept and take for granted that health care will be there when it is needed.
Now, for over 5 years the Republicans have been screaming Obamacare! Obamacare! Government takeover! Death Panels! Rationing! and any other illogical or even irrational argument against first the legislation while it was being enacted, then, for the last 4 years as its provisions have been being implemented, slowly at first, then accelerating, with near-full implementation beginning next week. All the while, the Republican sound machine has been screaming Obamacare! Fear! Beware Obamacare! Watch out for Obamacare!
And yet, at each stage of implementation, first the coverage of pre-existing conditions for children, the allowance of up to 26 year-olds to stay on their parent's coverage, and several other less well-known elements. Each time one of these were implemented, the Republicans and even the insurance companies, decided that the items being implemented weren't so bad after all. When seniors who get a $250 check back because Obamacare has begun to close the donut hole in drug coverage, we didn't hear very much from the Republicans about Obamacare. One must remember that the Republicans created the donut hole with their ill-conceived and poorly executed Medicare Part D legislation signed into law by President Bush. We don't hear very much from the Republicans when the insurance companies, for the second year in a row, have had to rebate back to the policy holders, over $1 billion in excess profits above the care ratios established in Obamacare.
We must remember that the purpose of framing is to get the opposite side to buy into the frame, and by doing this, it reinforces the frame in the minds of both sides of the debate. We have to remember this when the Republicans fail to repeal, and fail to de-fund the PPACA or as the Republicans are fond of saying, Obamacare.
The frame is now Obamacare. It is reinforced in the right, left and center? media, nearly every hour of each and every day. And next Tuesday, Obamacare will start the final phase of its mass implementation, with the exception of some tax treatments, which will actually benefit both employers and insured individuals over the long term.
The full implementation of Obamacare, it's OK to say it, it's Obamacare, will, like Sam I Am, the American people will find that they like Obamacare because it provides better health care at lower cost. It will create 25 to 30 million new paying customers for doctors, hospitals, clinics, surgical centers. It will create jobs in hospital construction (many have already been created). It will create the need for hundreds of thousands of nurses, administrators, orderlies, medical technicians, teachers at medical and nursing schools. And it will all be credited, yes credited, not blamed on Obamacare.
And this frame, "Obamacare" will be in play for 75 or more years, and each November, voters will be reminded that they are better off, have a stronger economy, have more and better access to preventive care, to care for illnesses, and better health outcomes, and we can credit Obamacare.
The Obamacare frame is now being etched into the mind of every American, the outcome will be positive, Americans will like it, and Americans will remember who voted 42 times and counting to repeal it, to defund it, and they will remember who stood at the door of the hospital to deny American's right to affordable health care. And those who stood at the door to the hospital will find themselves without jobs as the Obamacare frame becomes a massive boomerang that causes the Republicans to adapt or become the Whigs, an extinct political party.