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Posted at 10:31 AM ET, 12/21/2010

BaucusCare vs. ObamaCare

By Ezra Klein

It doesn't really bother me if people refer to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as "ObamaCare," and I'm sure I've done it myself on several occasions. But at least on the blog, I try not to rely on that colloquialism for exactly the reasons that Aaron Carroll points out:

The more specific reason I don’t use “Obamacare” is that it implies that the law is the work of one man. It wasn’t passed by fiat. It was created by three committees in the House, two more in the Senate, was voted on by a majority of Representatives and a heck of a lot of Senators before being altered in reconciliation. Then it was signed by the President. President Obama neither gets all the blame nor all the credit. It’s not his and his alone. It’s the Affordable Care Act, the ACA, or the PPACA.

It's also "health-care reform" or the "health-care law." There are no shortage of terms where people know what you're talking about. The problem with "ObamaCare" is that it reinforces our tendency to attribute everything that happens in government to the executive. But the process that led to the health-care law didn't begin Jan. 20, 2009. It began June 16, 2008, when the Senate Finance Committee began writing its health-care bill. That's the process that led to the bill we ultimately passed, and that would've also been true if President Hillary Clinton had been inaugurated the next year. In fact, there's a good case to be made that BaucusCare is a more appropriate descriptor than ObamaCare.

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 10:31 AM ET
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Also worth noting that the right wing media widely uses ObamaCare as a pejorative. When my new "democratic" Senator Manchin talked about it during his campaign, he used it dripping with spite.

Posted by: wvng | December 21, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Baucus doesn't "care" about anybody except his corporate contributors. The lousy bill was passed in spite of his obstruction and after his diminution of it. He's a creep in the first degree.

Posted by: rjewett | December 21, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

So what should we call the Bush tax cuts?

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 21, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

@lauren2010 If you are rich? Best-fracking-deal ever.

Posted by: chrisgaun | December 21, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

2008? It started in 1974, with Richard Nixon. The most important thing to understand about "ObamaCare" is that it's largely a compilation of Republican ideas.

Posted by: zackpunk | December 21, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

During the election Democrats started using "Obama" as a prefix (remember Obamamama = Michelle Obama) which the GOP co-opted. There are rationalizations for the use of “ObamaCare”, by Megan McArdle et. al., and against but the underlining issue is that during the debate it became fodder for slander and libel.

For instance, look how many articles simultaneously use the words "ObamaCare" and "socialism" - 143 on December 17th alone:


Posted by: chrisgaun | December 21, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

The first new rule says you HAVE to have insurance. Both my husband and I have pre-existing conditions, and although the new bill says we can't be denied coverage because of it. So far, the cheapest health insurance we've been able to find is called "Wise Health Insurance" search for it online if you are pre-existing conditions.

Posted by: patewart | December 21, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I certainly take your point on the Obamacare thing, but make peace with it.

Its an exercise in futility in the United States of America to get yourself worked up that people attribute emperor-like status to the President. People sort of know he isnt able to do whatever he wants by fiat, but its a shorthand way of understanding the world everyone uses.

FDR got Social Security and won World War 2, LBJ got the Civil Rights Act and Medicare, Obama got the Affordable Care Act, or is what it is.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | December 21, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

It should bother us when members of the news-reporting media use the term "ObamaCare," as they so often do--and not only because it mis-represents the law as the work of one man. This is a framing issue: Republicans use the term so that people's negative feelings about Obama (if any) will spill over onto the healthcare bill; and so that their negative feelings about the bill will spill over onto Obama. It should bother us when news media (intentionally or not) use language that promotes the Republican line. A more obvious example: it bothers me when I see Fox News spend an entire report using the term 'death tax'.

Posted by: knacheme | December 21, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind ObamaCare if it's used in a sentence with BushWars.

Posted by: crosspalms | December 21, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't it be Romney-Care?

Posted by: Maddenuf | December 21, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

It will probably wind up being called Baucus care, since the Rube Goldberg nature of it will soon be apparent, so it's appropriate that it be named after someone who is clearly cognitively impaired -- either from alcoholism, or mini strokes. Don't you remember the flurry of articles about Baucus' slurred speech? The author of our laws. Good times.

Posted by: truck1 | December 21, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, HHS bought the domain!

Posted by: staticvars | December 22, 2010 1:44 AM | Report abuse

correction, not the domain, just an ad for that keyword.

Posted by: staticvars | December 22, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

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