Why doesn't the left like 'ObamaCare'?
A number of readers have complained that I use the term "ObamaCare" when referring to the Affordable Healthcare Act. I find this odd, since liberals are apparently very happy with the "historic" legislation and are welcoming a debate on the repeal vote. It seems I am not alone. Over at the Corner on NRO's Web site, several bloggers discuss the same subject. Ramesh Ponnuru puts it best, I think:
When I first started calling it Obamacare, the president's popularity didn't make it clearly pejorative. I used the word because it was convenient: more succinct than any alternative. My editors at Time picked the headline "The Fatal Flaw of Obamacare" back in August 2009. I suppose it could have said, "of the health-care bill" or "of H.R. [whatever it was]" or "of the ACA" (assuming it had been so named by then). Only "Obamacare" is both short and (as a term) comprehensible. Also, I had the precedents of ClintonCare and Romneycare on my side.
If the new health-care law eventually becomes popular and then unquestioned, as liberals hope, they'll be the ones seeking to keep it labeled "Obamacare."
Moreover, calling it "health-care reform" implies that there is "reform" contained in the legislation. That's a premise I don't agree with. In the event it survives constitutional challenge and Republican attempts at repeal, ObamaCare will certainly transform health care in America. That is different, however, than "reform," which is defined as "To improve by alteration, correction of error, or removal of defects; put into a better form or condition."
Conservative critics have made the case, and will continue to do so with the assistance of oversight hearings, that ObamaCare would not improve the system but in fact would makes care worse and increase costs. (We have seen some of this already.)
Yuval Levin, a former domestic policy adviser in the Bush administration and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, summed up why conservatives believe ObamaCare does not advance the stated goals of its supporters:
It would provide government-funded or subsidized insurance to many millions of people who already have private insurance (along with many millions who do not), and would transform the way the private insurance and health-care markets operate in an effort to impose price controls to contain the growth of costs. It puts into practice the notion that the way to make health-care financing more efficient is to make it a centralized system managed largely by the government, so that the only way to really squeeze costs is to tighten price controls.
If you do not think that this is how economic efficiency happens, then you cannot expect any form of this approach to address the basic problem with American health care, and indeed you would expect this approach to result in lower quality and less readily available care. To fix that basic problem you have to undo this system and start over, with the aim of allowing consumer choice and competition (the actual sources of efficiency in a free economy) to keep health-care costs down.
As for what to call it, historic legislation has often been named for its author or principal advocate. The "Marshall Plan" (actually, the European Recovery Program) was a tribute to George C. Marshall. "McCain-Feingold" (that would be, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) was readily adopted by cheerleaders for regulation of campaign finance. Likewise, the "Pell grants" (technically, the Basic Educational Opportunity Grants) were lauded by advocates of college aid and acquired the title as a tribute to Senator Claiborne Pell (D.-R.I.). So, really, why not "ObamaCare"? Perhaps it is an indication of just how unpopular Obama's signature legislative accomplishment has become that the president's most devoted supporters would rather not identify it as his handiwork.
Posted by: BigGator5 | January 5, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: werehawk | January 5, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: timInCT | January 5, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Lazarus40 | January 5, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Larry3435 | January 5, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: fingersfly | January 5, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mikem23 | January 5, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jmpickett | January 5, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: danw1 | January 5, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: adam62 | January 5, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: adam62 | January 5, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: nvjma | January 5, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jararlidge | January 12, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.