Suddenly in the past couple of weeks, the term “ObamaCare” has become unacceptable again in polite Democrat society.
It started out as a term used mostly by Republicans to deride Obama’s signature legislation and compare it to Hillary Clinton’s failed “Hillarycare,” so the president and congressional Democrats initially rejected the label, “ObamaCare”.
In fact, before she took over as chairwoman of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to bar Republicans from using the word on the House floor, claiming it violated “the chamber’s rules against making disparaging remarks against the president.”
But at some point in 2011, Obama decided to embrace the ObamaCare moniker as part of a strategy to take the fight to Republicans. He did this at fundraisers and while touring the country in his big black bus.
Earlier in the day, he had told an audience in Dallas, “Folks go around saying ObamaCare. That’s right — I care. … That’s their main agenda? That’s your plank? Is making sure 30 million people don’t have health insurance?
He repeated the mantra in Minnesota: “I have no problem with people saying Obama cares. I do care. “If the other side wants to be the folks that don’t care, that’s fine with me. I do care.”
In March of 2012, he was still at it:
“You want to call it Obamacare — that’s okay, because I do care,” Obama said at a fundraiser in Atlanta. Later that week, the White House urged supporters of the law to tweet why they backed it with the hashtag “#ilikeobamacare.”
And on Sunday, White House senior adviser David Plouffe threw down the political gauntlet on the term; “I’m convinced at the end of the decade, the Republicans are going to regret turning this [into] ‘Obamacare,'” Plouffe said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Moving on to August of 2012, this one’s my favorite:
“The Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare,” Obama said to applause from backers at the University of Denver.
“I actually like the name,” he added. “Because I do care — that’s why we fought so hard to make it happen.”
Later, in an appearance in Colorado Springs, Obama rapped Republican opponent Mitt Romney because “when it comes to health care, he wants to kill Obamacare — I’m implementing Obamacare because it was the right thing to do.”
(Sadly, now that America has had a chance to see ObamaCare, if the election were held today, Mitt Romney would beat Obama —- because “he wants to kill ObamaCare.”)
The president and his aides once shunned the word “Obamacare,” at a time when both the law and Obama were struggling politically.
They have maintained that the 2010 health care law would become more popular after its benefits became known; that belief may explain Obama’s embrace of the term now.
The president didn’t say “Obamacare” once during his nearly hourlong news conference last week, while he referred to the “Affordable Care Act” a dozen times. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi went so far as to correct David Gregory on “Meet the Press” Sunday on the proper terminology. And White House talking points distributed to Democrats and obtained by POLITICO repeatedly refer to the Affordable Care Act in suggested sound bites, not Obamacare.
Calling it the Affordable Care Act has advantages for Democrats seeking to defend health care reform while still criticizing the bungled White House rollout. The phrase polls better than Obamacare — and people have responded more positively to the law’s benefits when they haven’t been told they come from Obamacare.