What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
I used to think that labeling the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare” was a good idea for the GOP, particularly during the Presidential Election of 2012. At that time, the goal for the Republicans was to defeat Barack Obama, and so it made sense to associate his name with unpopular legislation.
But President Obama wasn’t defeated in the 2012 Presidential Election. He’s here to stay until January, 2017.
Now the goal for the GOP is to take down the Affordable Care Act. Polls are showing that this legislation is increasingly unpopular, and analyses of the effect of the law grow more alarming. Despite what was promised, many analysts expect insurance premiums to rise, medical costs to continue to go up, patient choice to decrease, and taxpayer burdens to grow.
Worse, but predictably, the Affordable Care Act is contributing to the transformation of our economy. Businesses either will have to bear much of the burden of the new law, or will change their employee model by hiring more part-time workers. Even that favorite of the lefty crunchy set, Trader Joe’s, is making every effort to minimize the impact of the new law.
The GOP seems to be in full dog-chasing-its-tail-mode, arguing about how best to challenge the law. Repeal it? Defund it? Threaten a government shut down? Let the law go into effect and pick up the pieces later?
What they don’t seem to be doing is seizing on the law’s unpopularity. Even labor unions, worried about a reduction in full-time employment, and an increase in the cost of union-funded health plans, have begun to object. Feeling that pressure, or worried at the law’s effect on the unemployment rate and the continually wimpy economic ‘recovery’, some of the President’s allies are expressing their concern.
So why, then, is there not much momentum in stopping this abominable law? It’s unpopular, it’s scary, it’s made strange bedfellows.
Here’s one possibility: it’s called Obamacare.
See, when the goal was to defeat the President’s re-election bid, it made sense to associate the name ‘Obama’ with the unpopular and scary legislation. But now that the goal is to defeat the Affordable Care Act, the stupidest thing to do is to associate the law with a President who is popular. Yes, I know that the President’s approval ratings have fallen in recent weeks (see image below), but he will always have passionate support from a segment of the population.
That segment of the population, however, includes people who might otherwise not be particularly sanguine about the Affordable Care Act. Like laborers. Like union workers, including government workers. Like college graduates hoping for a career and not a succession of part time jobs. Like seniors frightened of losing the doctors they have built trust with. Like minorities, for whom the unemployment rate is already distressingly high.
This is a group of people who might hate a law called the Affordable Care Act, but who find a reason to support the same law when it is called Obamacare. Loyalty to a politician can be strong, but loyalty to a 900-page bill no one’s read? Uh-uh.
Call it Obamacare and it will smell like a rose to the people (or to use the President’s lingo, the ‘folks’) who see him as a transformational politician. Call it the Affordable Care Act, and it stinks.
Republicans tried to condition an aversion to Obama by associating him with the law. Now they are unwittingly conditioning a preference to the law by associating it with Obama. Get smart. Call it the Affordable Care Act so we can, someday soon, call it repealed.