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Posted at 2:22 PM ET, 01/13/2011

Dems settle on branding for GOP repeal effort: "The Patient's Rights Repeal Act"

By Greg Sargent

"The Patient's Rights Repeal Act."

At a House Dem leadership meeting last week, Dem leaders decided that this is the phrase they will officially use to brand the House GOP's push to repeal health reform, aides tell me.

With House Republicans set to press forward with repeal next week, the idea behind the Dem talking point is to emphasize what repeal would take away from you -- and to position the plight of the patient in the center of this battle.

Dems are gearing up for a major campaign against repeal, in hopes that it will give them another crack at selling the American public on the law by highlighting its most popular provisions and arguing that repeal would do away with them.

The effort by Dems to hit on a pithy phrase to brand the GOP's repeal effort comes after Republicans have been remarkable successful in their messaging on health care. The two core talking points developed by Republicans -- that health reform is a "job killer" and a "government takeover" -- have both gained amazing media traction in the past two years, despite the fact that "government takeover" earned PolitiFact's "lie of the year" award.

It remains to be seen whether "the Patient's Rights Repeal Act" will enjoy similar success.

UPDATE, 3:31 p.m.: A GOP aide points out that Politifact's conclusion about the "lie of the year" has been aggressively challenged by The Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Grace-Marie Turner.

By Greg Sargent  | January 13, 2011; 2:22 PM ET
Categories:  Health reform, House Dems, House GOPers  
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Still think they should have gone with "Life Saving". Like the GOP's "Job-Killing", it's hard to prove, but hard to disprove as well. Plus it just sounds better.

"The GOP are going to repeal the "Life Saving" Healthcare Bill."

Posted by: calchala | January 13, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

AWESOME! FINALLY! Thanks for that great news Greg. Let's hope the Dems have finally figured out R strategy. With any luck they've had their version of Frank Luntz test this in focus groups (any way to find out Greg?) and have found it to have the most effect.

Let's hope the Dems have the same discipline as the R's..I have yet to hear a single one say anything about repealing the health care's always..."the job killing" (wonder how carefully researched that phrase was?) health care bill...that's every R pundit or pol I have heard speak on the subject.

If the Dems and their pundits like Ed Schulz and K.O. etc and EVERY elected Dem never address hcr repeal without saying
"The patient rights repeal act" they are messing up IMHO. Drive the phrase home!
And then drive it home again...and again and again..

The patients rights repeal act...

yeah The patients rights repeal act...

They're coming for your doesn't that have a nice familiar ring to it.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 13, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse


Ask Eric Cantor where is their replacement Health Care Reform bill.

Recall that Congressman Paul Ryan said on TV, that Republicans should have done Health Care Reform, when they controlled both houses, and the White House.

See if you can get Cantor and/or Paul Ryan to tell you why they still have not offered a bill to replace the one that they are now going to vote to repeal.

Remind Paul Ryan about his own admission of past failure to pursue Health Care reform, when they had the chance.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 13, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

This branding diminishes the Dem's portrayal of HCR to just patient's rights. Universal coverage, as a virtue, is dropped from the message Democrats want the people to hear. Yes, patient's right get better message-testing results. But once the Dems step back from universal coverage it will be hard to get up the fight needed to protect that portion of HCR. Surely the Dems are not willing to allow HCR to be pulled back to a patient's right law??

Be careful, it may be hard to walk this back.

Posted by: swinkler | January 13, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"It remains to be seen whether "the Patient's Rights Repeal Act" will enjoy similar success."

The Dems would struggle selling ice cream in a desert. This catchprase goes nowhere.


Posted by: bsimon1 | January 13, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Okay, STUPID branding.

How about, "The Patient Killing Repeal Act"

I think it sums it up nicely.

Posted by: lcrider1 | January 13, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

The American people have roundly dismissed the media's disgusting slander:

"Some of the early news coverage of the shootings discussed whether the increasingly inflammatory language used in political debate today could have motivated the shooter to attack the Democratic member of Congress. That theory was put forth by the sheriff of Pima County, Ariz., who argued that conservative thought leaders like Sarah Palin use language that may encourage their supporters to commit acts of violence against their opponents.

Most Americans reject that theory, with 53% agreeing that commentators who allege conservative rhetoric was responsible were mostly attempting to use the tragedy to make conservatives look bad. "

Hacks like Sargent have disgraced themselves. He, along with many others,should be fired.

Posted by: bobmoses | January 13, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

@cao: Are you here, and if so, what generation iPhone do you have? I'm testing the iCab Troll Hunter on a 1st generation, and there are some issues. They may come up on any generation iPhone, because although autorun is supposed to execute after the page has fully loaded, that doesn't seem to be what's happening. So, each time you refresh, you have to click on the puzzle icon then click on the WaPo Troll Hunter icon to make the script execute. And the "comments removed" bar is not in the right place, like it is on normal browsers.

Anyhoo, I'd like to test it. You can set modules to autorun in the icab preferences, so you could turn it on and off (wanting to leave it off, obviously, if premature execution prevents comments from showing up at all).

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 13, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I |red:hate| it. I agree with bsimon (again?!).

The ACA's relationship to patients' rights whatever that means is an abstraction. I'd like to preserve the use of the word rights to something in the Constitution and its BoR, or at least something the high courts have ruled on. But connecting for example, the individual mandate to patients' rights seems like a construct just begging to be blown up, ooops I mean demolished.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 13, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of health care, check out this video of a newly elected Republican having to answer for repeal with no replace.

Just a matter of time when seniors realize they've been bamboozled by the Republicans, again.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 13, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Is rights another word for mandate?

Posted by: Papagnello | January 13, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"Just a matter of time when seniors realize they've been bamboozled by the Republicans, again.'

A cavalcade of mean jokes come to mind. I'll make just one, they don't have that kind of time, again. badda mini-cymbal

Posted by: shrink2 | January 13, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"Universal coverage, as a virtue, is dropped from the message Democrats want the people to hear."

HCR does not provide universal coverage.

Posted by: sbj3 | January 13, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

@shrink and Bsimon
May I respectfully disagree. You two are talking about what you perceive as "reality"...and indeed maybe you are correct about the bill itself or the bill's consequences but I believe you both are mistaken if you think reality has had a seat at this debate. From "death panels" to "Gov't takeover" to "socialized medicine" to the farce of Medicare recipients screaming keep the Gov't out of my health care...reality has never been's all about Alex Agassi once said in his Canon commercials "perception is everything"

If it has been tested in focus groups and works go for it!

Regardless this is not going to go well for R's. They totally misread the election as a mandate not a vote of simple frustration with the economy. Certainly the ACA polls around 50-50 that doesn't mean the optics look good when the very first thing the R's do is not legislate but repeal. If the R's had something to replace it with..another bill...they might retain SOME credibility...but this slaps the American public right in the face with the reality of the R party...they have nothing of a positive solution to HCR to bring to the table and so they simply wish to keep scoring political points by being the party of Obstruction.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 13, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@Mike. Great link.

As the man in the video asks, and as Liam suggests above, what are Repubs going to replace it with? Dems need to repeatedly ask that question.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | January 13, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

So much for 'the American people"

"Next week, the Republicans in Congress are expected to debate and vote on repealing the recently passed health care bill. To justify this push, these conservatives claim that Americans want the law to be repealed and that they think it goes too far in expanding the government and would prefer a free market approach to health care, despite recent polling that shows that most Americans either support the law or want it to be more progressive.

Yet at a town hall held earlier this week at Ohio’s Walsh University, GOP Rep. Jim Renacci (OH) found a crowd that was less than friendly to his proposal to repeal the new health care law. At one point during the event, constituent Dan Fonte challenged the congressman about the hasty push to repeal the bill. “There are a lot of things that took effect [as a result of the new law] that help seniors. What happens to all that?” asked Fonte. “And what are you going to replace it with? Why don’t you make a replacement plan so we can look at it before you repeal it?” The crowd reacted to Fonte’s question with great applause. "

Posted by: fiona5 | January 13, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

"I agree with bsimon (again?!)."

Something is awry. I'll see what I can do.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 13, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Sorry as my old brain recalls..Agassi actually said "Image is everything"

Just want to correct.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 13, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

It should be: "Repealing Patients' Rights"

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | January 13, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

So in the interest of the new bi-partisan spirit it will be named "H.R.2: Repealing the Job-Killing Patient's Rights Health Care Law Act"?

Posted by: jnc4p | January 13, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

"The Patient's Rights Repeal Act."

I agree with the politics behind it but couldn't they have come up with something that people could actually roll off their tongue a little easier. It sounds like a tongue twister to me.

Posted by: lmsinca | January 13, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

rukidding writes
"you both are mistaken if you think reality has had a seat at this debate. From "death panels" to "Gov't takeover" to "socialized medicine" to the farce of Medicare recipients screaming keep the Gov't out of my health care...reality has never been's all about marketing..."

We agree. Its about marketing, not reality. The Dems are atrocious at marketing, including the clumsy phrasing of "The Patient's Rights Repeal Act." It doesn't roll of the tongue, which means newscasters won't oblige them in repeating it ad nauseum. Compare it to your list of examples: death panels, government takeover and socialized medicine. They all trigger an emotional response regardless of whether they accurately reflect policy. Those three are examples of successful marketing. I think the last successful dem catchphrase was 'I feel your pain'.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 13, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

What does the GOP care? They all have health insurance. "I've got mine, screw the rest of you. God bless America!" USA!

Posted by: jckdoors | January 13, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"Regardless this is not going to go well for R's. They totally misread the election as a mandate..."

Oh you know I agree with that. Now they are whistling past the graveyard, ooops, I mean they are not being attentive to a grim and inevitable prospect. Yesterday was a cusp, otherwise known as a watershed, a pivot point, the Rs will be on the defensive and they have no other choice. The damage Palin did was incalculable. Freelancing was such a mistake. There is no Palin organization, there are no Palin insiders, just she and some friends, no professional handlers is never going to work.

Rove knew; he knows the base are rubes and that they have to be messaged with extraordinary discipline. Once McCain broke out with a desperate gambit (or two, remember when he suspended his campaign to interfere with the TARP process, only to show America he didn't even know what the words meant?), the model that got people like the Bushes and Reagan elected was lost. Now the rubes think they can think, they think they can have power by waving don't tread on me flags.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 13, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Kevin, there is something wrong with the block quotes feature for some users. Its use changes the font and font size of the text after the block quote, I don't know why of course, nor whether everyone sees that. I'll stick to |red:red| and |hi:yellow| for now, It is a good keyboard/finger workout, I don't usually make pipes.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 13, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Who are the Democratic Idiots that think that this opaque labeling will get the voters to protest the repeal act?

Democrats; if you want people to understand what you are defending, then get your heads out of your arses, and start using language that working class people will grasp.

Your label will only cause their eyes to glaze over, and tune you out.

What are you trying to convey to the voters? Is it; that the House Republicans are about to vote to let Insurance Companies refuse to provide Health Care coverage for millions of people who might get sick.

If it is, then come up with a phrase that conveys that to the average person.

It is: The Let Insurance Companies Decide Who Will Live, and Who Will Die, Act.

If you do not know how to get that message out to the voters, then you better get out, because you are worthless to the people who elected you.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 13, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@bsimon All good points in your 3:22PM

I'm not suggesting this is the greatest line...and hopefully they have some pros like Luntz test it....

But I agree with your essential point Bsimon
The R's kick the D's arse when it comes to marketing.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 13, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Why wasn't this show of Democratic spine on display BEFORE the election?

When liberals like myself criticized the legislation, we were referred to, by the Obama Administration as, variously, "the professional left", "sanctimonious", and "f*ing retarded", but when it came to campaigning, suddenly, the Democrats insisted that liberals show far more enthusiasm for this legislation than the Democrats who actually voted for it.

Running away from your votes and hoping the other side trips up, but doing nothing to bring about such mistakes was an incredibly stupid tactic and strategy on the Democrats part, a lesson they better heed in future elections if the party wants to go from "minority" to "majority".

Posted by: kingcranky | January 13, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"The R's kick the D's arse when it comes to marketing."

Well yeah apart from Palin, Tancredo, O'Donnell, Steele, Hoffman, Angle...the Republicans need to get their TP behind them where it came from **and fast.** Guys like Brown and McDonnell won because they ran as someone they were not, that works for Republicans. As for authentic right wing nutbars, I think America knows better now (except for Kentucky...the meth you know).

Posted by: shrink2 | January 13, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Republicans need to offer an alternative before they try to repeal it. Offering no solutions is just lazy politics.

Before Republicans return to preconditions and being dropped from our insurance plan if we get sick, please explain what guarantees they are offering that our health insurance will be there when we need it.

Posted by: Beeliever | January 13, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

If this is how Democrats are going compete in the messaging battles, then they have not learned a damn thing from the recent shellacking they received.

There are millions of families out there, who have experienced Insurance Companies dropping their coverage. Now that those families are on the verge of getting much needed health care coverage, The Republicans are about to vote, to deny it to them.

Why do The Democrats not know how to use those millions of families, that were abused by Insurance Racketeers?

Why aren't the Democrats organizing a mass rally around congress, by family members of people who the Insurance Companies had refused to cover?

Republicans made sure that The Tea Party showed up, when the votes were being cast. How come Democrats still do not have a clue about how to go about having their constitutions do the same thing next week?

Tim Kaine truly is just a potted plant, and we are stuck with him for the next two years. I would swap him for Michael Steele, in a heart beat.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 13, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The Wall St J editorial board has zero credibility. They still claim Hillary Clinton killed Vincent Foster.

Posted by: Garak | January 13, 2011 4:11 PM | Report abuse

The Dems need to stop messing around and just name the bill "The Republicans Want You to Die Act of 2011."

Repeat as necessary.

Posted by: Observer691 | January 13, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

FYI, Grace Marie Turner is not "with" the Atlanta Constitution. She runs the Galen Institute, a marketing company funded by Big Pharma and the health insurance industry. She is one of those shills masquerading as an "expert" who regurgitates lobbyist talking points. See

Posted by: Garak | January 13, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Tim Pawlenty has now come out in favor of restoring DADT. He said he would work toward doing so, and this guy is one of The Republicans who are going to run for President.

Looks like SBJ has found a new candidate to keep sending contributions to, while blaming Harry Reid for turning Tim Pawlenty into a homophobe.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 13, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

My very own stalker!

Posted by: sbj3 | January 13, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse


"Boehner Slips
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) turned down an offer by President Obama "to travel on Air Force One to Arizona for a memorial service on behalf of the victims of Saturday's shooting, a decision that has upset some Democrats," Politico reports.

Boehner instead attended a reception last night on behalf of Maria Cino, "a former top House GOP aide who is seeking the Republican National Committee chairmanship.""

Posted by: Liam-still | January 13, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Is this the message that the Democratic Leadership is trying to convey?

Let The Insurance Companies Kill Millions Of Sick People, Act.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 13, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

So - 30M new customers will KILL jobs?!
Only in Republicans' twisted minds.

It's shameful that Republicans won't change the name of their bill - "Job-killing bill" to something else considering the Arizona tragedy.
But the bill's title is playing to their rabid right base - so it will remain.

Posted by: angie12106 | January 13, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I am starting to hone in on a pithy branding caption;

Here is where I am at now:

The: Lose Your Health Coverage, And Then Your Home, Act.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 13, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans'

First we will let them take away your health coverage, and then you will lose your homes, act.

Promulgate that truth to the masses Democrats, and you might stand a chance of not getting steamrolled in 2012.

Hold a DC rally around the House Of Reps. next week, for people from all over the country who had their insurance taken away from them, and who have lost, or a close to losing their homes, in order to pay the crippling medical bills.

Let the country witness the masses of victims of Insurance Industry cruelty, and what Republicans want to return us to.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 13, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Calchala: Life Saving Health Care Bill

Posted by: kwshoes | January 13, 2011 5:39 PM | Report abuse

The GOP act is designed to let Insurance companies drop people, so how the hell can one call it a life saving bill.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 13, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"The Make More Americans Bankrupt Act"?
"The American-Killing No Coverage Act"?
"The Why Are You Still Alive Act"?
"The Dead Poor People Can't Vote Democratic Act"?
"The Repeal Your Child's Health Act"?
"The Go To The Emergency Room Act"?
"The Sorry The Emergency Room Is Closed Act"?
"The Please Die Quickly Act"?
"The You're Not Really Sick Act"?

Posted by: CalDamage | January 13, 2011 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they just call it the "GOP Wasting Time Act," since it's going absolutely nowhere in the Senate and is just a political stunt.

Posted by: xargaw1224 | January 13, 2011 10:07 PM | Report abuse

This branding should be accompanied by advertisements:

"President Reagan and Presidential candidate Barry Golderwater considered Medicare to be Socialized Medicine. Support Republicans in their efforts to repeal Socialized Medicine and eliminate Medicare."

Posted by: JohnJay60 | January 13, 2011 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I prefer to call it the "Rescue Innocent Health Insurance CEOs Held Hostage by Irresponsible Uninsured Sick Children Working for the Unelected Kenyan Muslim Usurper Act of 2011".

Posted by: SilentBobNJ | January 13, 2011 11:06 PM | Report abuse

If they want to show they're really serious, they ought to try renaming it the "Republicans Are Real Mean Meanies And We Don't Like Sarah Palin Much Either Bill" I'm sure this will engender support far and wide.

Posted by: TobyTucker1 | January 13, 2011 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Liam-love the description of Kaine being a potted plant. He really is that uninspiring. "HCR-is common sense"-Balance between public and private sector,reduces the deficit, 30 million new patients, 300,000 new jobs and patient rights' protections against insurance company abuses, reduces

Posted by: CarmanK | January 14, 2011 12:52 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans don't need to have a bill in place because they have done such a good job demonizing the HCR. people are so scared that this is going to he the end of the world that repealing this is the only thing that can save us. Now that good messaging.

Posted by: jmfernelius | January 14, 2011 3:13 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin: only saw your post by chance. I rarely see anything but Hapoy Hour and Morning Roundup, I'm 12 hours offset from east coast USA.

I'm on an iPad. IPhone (I have a 4) is too small for non-mobile-specific web pages.

Thanks for your efforts.

I'm an apps guy, middle tier dev, never did browserbstuff.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 14, 2011 4:25 AM | Report abuse

Wow, first time on this site proves the Obama kool-aid drinkers are alive & well!
So why should the R's lay out their "plan" when the D's told us we would have to read it to know what was in it??? You obviously didn't object to that. Do you like what's happened to your HSA? Are you happy with your premium cost increases? We are, under Obama, becoming a Nanny State and it is disgusting! Get out there and work your a###s off and take care of yourself instead of depending on other people to do it (oops, I forgot, under the Divider-in-Chief the unemployment rate has been hovering at 10%)!!! Good Luck with the Bamster in charge!

Posted by: ladyceo | January 14, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

How about:

"The Health Insurance Company Recovery Act"?

"The Restore Our Insurance Company Gross Margins Act"?

"The Reimbursement for Insurance Company Lobbyists Act"?

"The 'They Want You To Die Act"?

Where's Colbert on this?

Posted by: Islander5 | January 14, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

How about:

"The Health Insurance Company Recovery Act"?

"The Restore Our Insurance Company Gross Margins Act"?

"The Reimbursement for Insurance Company Lobbyists Act"?

"The 'They Want You To Die Act"?

Where's Colbert on this?

Posted by: Islander5 | January 14, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

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