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When Did “ObamaCare” Become a Slur?

Posted By Larry Elder On February 28, 2011 @ 12:06 am In Afternoon Edition,Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 1 Comment

“‘ObamaCare’ … is a disparaging reference to the President of the United States. It is meant as a disparaging reference to the President of the United States. It is clearly in violation of the House rules against that,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. “ObamaCare,” according to several blogs, is the new “n” word.

When did “ObamaCare” become a slur?

Proponents, after all, boast that President Barack Obama succeeded in signing “universal care” legislation when every Democratic president since Harry Truman failed to “get it done.” Why isn’t President Obama flattered to have his name attached to his signature achievement and a now-fulfilled campaign promise? Was there a hissy fit over “HillaryCare” or the widely used “RomneyCare”?

A LexisNexis search turns up what might be “ObamaCare’s” first use in print. An April 4, 2008, enthusiastically supportive article in the Salt Lake Tribune said: “Obama’s national health insurance program, let’s call it ‘ObamaCare,’ provides Americans with affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles.” Hmmm, not too much racial insensitivity there.

Alrighty then, what exactly is the problem?

Assume, for the sake of argument, “right-wingers” use “ObamaCare” in a “mean-spirited” way. The left well understands and embraces the tactic: personalize or make a caricature about a policy; or use a description to induce a negative reaction. Here are a few:

“Reaganomics”: Used to personalize and attach to a “cold-hearted conservative” president an economic agenda the media opposed and assumed would fail. Incredibly, New York Daily News’ Joshua Greenman recently wrote, “(HillaryCare and ObamaCare) were used, from the get-go, as slurs, unlike, say, ‘Reaganomics.’” Nonsense. Many Reagan supporters actually liked the term, but opponents meant it as a slur. We know this because when President Reagan’s policies began to show results, the media’s use of the term nosedived. “I could tell our economic policy was working,” Reagan said, “when they stopped calling it ‘Reaganomics.’”

When the media use the word “ObamaCare,” Ken Shepherd of NewsBusters.org points out, they use quotations marks to distance themselves from the term or are quoting a Republican. “Reaganomics,” however, was often used as a descriptive term — no quotation marks.

“Star Wars”: Used to derisively describe Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, a missile defense program critics thought technologically impossible. The media increasingly began using the acronym SDI in part because the Cold War ended and in part because SDI-inspired technology became reality.

“Me Decade/Decade of Greed”: Used by left-wing anti-Reagan critics to attribute the prosperity of the ’80s to selfishness — even though charitable giving reached record levels. During the ’90s, the purported indices of “greed” worsened. The gap between the rich and poor increased, the stock market grew higher, Wall Street arranged more mergers and acquisitions, and more Americans lacked health insurance.

“Trickle-down”: Used by the media to give a Marie Antoinette “let ‘em eat cake” slant to what free-market economists call “supply-side economics” — the notion that lower tax rates ultimately increase tax revenues. The term demeans the cornerstone of Reagan’s economic agenda, depicting it as the rich getting richer, with the non-rich getting the crumbs that, you know, “trickle down.” Forget that in 1962 tax-cut advocate and Democratic President John F. Kennedy said, “It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low — and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut rates now.”

“Torture Memo”: Used to describe the “Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism: Assessment of Legal, Historical, Policy and Operational Considerations” — the 2003 Department of Defense legal opinion. It concluded that there are legal bases for waterboarding. Despite the name “torture memo,” the report does not call waterboarding, conducted under the prescribed circumstances and conditions outlined, “torture.”

So, why do Democrats now find the term “ObamaCare” so toxic? Simple. The bill remains unpopular — and under siege.

Democrats expected opposition to subside as Americans grew to appreciate its merit. But nearly a year after Obama signed the bill, a recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters shows that 56 percent want ObamaCare repealed.

Twenty-six states filed lawsuits arguing that ObamaCare violates the Constitution, specifically the mandate that requires every American to purchase heath insurance. The now GOP-controlled House voted 245-189 to repeal it, with more voting for its repeal than voted for its passage.

The number of ObamaCare waivers given to companies and organizations recently passed 900. In his recent testimony before the House, Medicare’s chief actuary called it “false, more so than true” that ObamaCare will decrease medical costs. As for Obama’s assertion that if people like their current health insurance they could keep it, the Medicare official called this “not true in all cases.”

So, what to do about “ObamaCare,” an expensive, unpopular, legally dubious piece of legislation that most voters oppose? Why, change its name, of course. Why not use an expression that most voters hope accurately reflects its fate?

How about “toast”?


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