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Posted at 3:48 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

PPACA? Seriously?

By Ezra Klein

I don't care if people refer to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as ObamaCare or health-care reform or the ACA or the BaucusBill or anything else. This is the sort of thing that keeps political professionals busy, but doesn't much matter to people. The law is unpopular right now because people have a bad impression of it, not because the title didn't go through enough focus groups. Nevertheless, Kevin Drum is right about this:

The real problem here is that Democrats, once again, failed Legislation 101. This was their bill. They could name it anything they wanted. So what did they choose? PPACA. That's very memorable, isn't it? What's wrong with these guys?

Perhaps Slate, fresh off the success of the Obama slogan generator, could create an app to name bills.

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 3:48 PM ET
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The law is unpopular right now because you people are stupid. That's what you mean right.

Posted by: obrier2 | February 9, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

From HHS:
"On March 23, 2010, the President signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. On March 30, 2010, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 was signed into law. The two laws are collectively referred to as the Affordable Care Act."

Posted by: emmas | February 9, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Drum is whining from the cheap seats. Medicare and Social Security are both clearly defined programs with a few specific and clear provisions. The Affordable Care Act (a name which I've seen without comment scores of time on this blog) is a broad spectrum reform package without one single focus. Calling it the Affordable Care Act is succinct and accurate.

Posted by: jamusco | February 9, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Score a big one for "Emmas @ 2/9/11, 4:36 pm."

Ezra, what's in a name? Kevin Drum is demonstrably wrong as ably demonstrated by Emmas -- and everyone else who has been referring to the law by its proper name or acronym.

What this is, though, is another opportunity for so-called "smart" pundits to waste time nitpicking over the unimportant rather than spending time telling folks what's good about the bill and why it should be even more popular.

Plus, Ezra, surely you've been following the polls which show that only about 18% of folks really "hate" the law and want it repealed in its entirety. Polls currently show people pretty evenly split -- roughly about 41% to 41% -- and when those who dislike the law because they do not think it is progressive enough and want the reforms to do more (like single-payer), those who want reform outnumber those who want the status quo. When the individual elements of the law are polled, its popularity is even higher.

Perhaps you and Mr. Drum can weigh in on the effectiveness of the title given "The Repeal of Job-Killing, Budget-Busting, Deficit-Exploding, Rising Tide of Socialism, Government-Run, Care-Rationing, Pulling the Plug on Grandma Obamacare Bill?"

Slow news afternoon...

Posted by: jade_7243 | February 9, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

The current title is actually something of an accidental byproduct of Congressional procedure. The House version of the bill was titled the "Affordable Health Care for America act" (which I think sounds better) but because of Scott Brown they had to pass the Senate version without modification to avoid a filibuster, and that means keeping the Senate title.

Posted by: usergoogol | February 9, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

As a bit of irony, HHS is being sued over their use of the phrase "The two laws are collectively referred to as the Affordable Care Act", because Congress never allocated funds to call any statute the "Affordable Care Act." As a reminder, HHS can't assign names to statutes -- only the elected Congress can do that.

Having said that, it is sort of fun to refer to some administration officials as "pee-packers" -- but it's odd the name hasn't shorted to just "The Packers".

Posted by: rmgregory | February 9, 2011 8:35 PM | Report abuse

4 (a) SHORT TITLE.—This Act may be cited as the
5 ‘‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’’."

Each time you call it another name, I will describe the table of contents of this bill and its short title and ask you if that is what you are talking about. The process is called framing the debate...or grinding down the hateful idiots.

Posted by: denim39 | February 10, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

If they had called the bill the Medicare Act of 2010 and branded the new subsidies as Medicare Part E, the public options would have had a much better chance of survival.

Posted by: Porchland | February 10, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The name was badly chosen, because only toadies of the administration use it. Medicare and social security are far more neutral, and contain less boosterism for the product than does the cumbersome "patient protection...." etc title. The name suggests that the legislation cannot speak for itself, that its merits cannot be seen but must be trumpeted in the title. That's why it's Orwellian. A simpler, less triumphant name would have been the far more intelligent choice. But not Baucus care, since his authorship should be downplayed -- what with his slurred speech and evident alcoholism.

Posted by: truck1 | February 11, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

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