It’s time to stop calling it Obamacare.
In 2009 when President Obama and a Democrat majority in Congress were jamming a new and onerous bill through without the normal due process Republicans disparagingly nicknamed the measure "Obamacare". The logic was understandable, their animus toward the President and his ideas made them want to make it personal. Plus they had a precedent.
During the 1990s, First Lady Hillary Clinton headed up a Clinton Administration task force to explore alternatives for changing the healthcare system in America. Wary conservatives, who understand that all such attempts coming from the left always end in socialization, branded the task force’s ideas as “HillaryCare.” Ultimately Republicans won the House of Representatives in 1994 and HillaryCare was confined to ash bin of history.
The fact is that the nickname “HillaryCare” worked to some extent to delegitimize the Clinton healthcare initiative. President Clinton himself had been elected with a plurality of only 43% and of course his wife was completely unelected. Additionally, from the moment the Clintons reached prominence Hillary has always been a polarizing figure. The idea that this matronly looking woman knew what was best for us seem ludicrous to most Americans for who the memory of Ronald Reagan was still very fresh.
So it’s no surprise that opponents of President Obama chose to designate his pet project with a similar nickname, Obamacare. But at this point that nickname doesn’t help Republicans win the public debate. For one thing Obama was elected by a majority and he came into power with very high personal approval ratings. People wanted to like him. Most people want to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly when they have a compelling personal story like the one that crafted for the previously unknown Obama.
The Obamacare nickname gives the impression that what Republicans really hate about the “Affordable Care Act” as it was actually called, is the fact the Obama championed it. It makes the healthcare debate into a petty partisan one rather than a monumental ideological one.
As I’ve written previously, the big problem with the Affordable Care Act is not the technical glitches in the various websites consumers are supposed to use to get quotes and buy health coverage, those things will eventually be remedied, but rather that the costs of the policies are much higher than most Americans are expecting. The truth about the “Affordable Care Act” is that it’s the biggest lie a politician has ever told American voters. Health care costs can only go up for most Americans under the law.
For these reasons I think all of us who oppose President Obama would be smart to change the way we talk about the “Affordable Care Act”. The solution is simple: “The Unaffordable Care Act. This nickname speaks directly the problem with the legislation. Examples of how the law makes healthcare more expensive abound, everything from caps on Flexible Spending Accounts to the medical devices tax to the new 1.9% tax on married couples who earn more than $250,000. The Unaffordable Care Act requires that all health insurance policies cover more things, like maternity coverage (even if you are couple with a post-menopausal woman). All of these things are costing Americans more and more money during a time where the economy is particularly weak, mainly as a side effect of the Unaffordable Care Act itself.
So let’s be smart about this and forget that word we’ve become so fond of and realize it’s doing more harm than good. Let’s focus the debate where we can win it, the actual results of this disastrous legislation.