I have to hand it to Frank Luntz, the conservative Republican pollster and political consultant. He does know how to pick a phrase that either scares the hell out of people or allows his minions to steer attention away from the real issues.
For example, take the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care bill the president signed into law on March 23, 2010. I bet not many people know it by that name. The Act is Obamacare to millions of Americans. I have no doubt that Luntz had a hand in coining that term after much research with focus groups. In one fell swoop, the name brings in the specter of socialized medicine plus the right wing’s racial and ideological hatred of the president.
If Obamacare wasn’t brilliant enough, the far right went a few steps further. Who remembers the first arguments against the ACA? First, it was some faceless bureaucrat was going to pull the plug on grandma or grandpa as they lay dying in a hospital. Never mind the fact that seniors often have their own legal documents that specify when and how they want end of life care terminated.
Somewhere along the line, a new fear was introduced that the ACA would prohibit folks from choosing their own doctor or even retaining their insurance plan. Both false assertions to scare people.
During the campaign, Romney-Ryan asserted over and over again that the president stole $716 billion from medicare to pay for Obamacare. Nope that was wrong too.
But the really big elephant in the room was always the specter of insurance premiums soaring through the roof. On the face of it, the fear seemed plausible. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent budget research arm of the Congress, even warned that insurance premiums were likely to soar as the ACA was implemented across America.
However, a recent article by Rick Ungar in Forbes Magazine (link is below) documented how the new health care exchange, Covered California, actually drove down the cost of premiums in the biggest state in the land. Imagine that! The same trend has emerged in Washington and Oregon when their healthcare exchanges opened.
It turns out that with all the new enrollees, companies want to compete to gain market share. The original thought behind the health care exchanges was to open up competition between insurance companies and it is working. Doesn’t increased competition sound like capitalism?
How wise is it to make assertions about the impact of a new public law without even anecdotal evidence to back one’s claim? At a minimum, this tactic wastes time. Look how many votes the House has had to repeal the ACA. I think it is nearly 40 votes. The House is in session only so many days a year and every vote on legislation that has no possibility of passing takes time away from serious issues like jobs. Worst case is negative, unfounded propaganda only divides America further. Is that an outcome we need right now?
Any public law can always be amended if real data indicates that is needed. Real evidence is building that confirms the worst fears about the the Affordable Care Act are unfounded.
Sorry, Frank you and your colleagues at Fox News missed the mark again. Will you ever admit the president was right about his landmark legislation?