White House Isn’t Selling ‘Obamacare’

Now that Obama’s historic health-care reform is signed, sealed, and delivered, we need to decide what to call this thing. Most laws end up with recognizable names (No Child Left Behind; FERPA; "don't ask, don't tell"), but the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may be too much of a mouthful to actually catch on.

Opponents have taken a liking to the ominous-sounding term “Obamacare.” When asked a question about the party-line vote in the House during Tuesday’s briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs interrupted WorldNetDaily’s Lester Kinsolving, who matter-of-factly dropped “Obamacare” as if it were the law’s official name. “I'm sorry, I'm confused,” Gibbs said. “Do you mean by that the law that the president signed yesterday?” Kinsolving nodded. “OK,” said Gibbs, “I just was—I didn't know if that was the Internet vernacular or the name of the bill, Lester. I was a little confused.”

But even if the White House is averse to the term, it certainly has caught on in the blogosphere. A quick Google search reveals a list of anti-health-care sites, rants, and blogs. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” result is obamacaretruth.org, “What the liberal media aren’t telling you about Obama’s healthcare plans.” A Lexis-Nexis search through major newspapers over the past two years produces more than 380 results, but most of the Obamacare uses were in letters to the editors, reader comments, editorials, and quotes from Republicans. When the editorial arm of most papers used the term, it was carefully placed in quotations or alongside an explanation that Obamacare is how opposition refers to the bill. (The Wall Street Journal is the exception and uses Obamacare interchangeably with health-care reform.)

Considering tea-party activists were marching in the streets waving signs proclaiming Obamacare will kill grandmas or with the term alongside photos of mutilated fetuses for the past year, it isn’t likely to overcome its stigma. If Obama and health-care-reform supporters want to repackage the new law and sell it to Americans as what we’ve been missing, the Obamacare epithet certainly isn’t the kind of marketing they need.

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