Friday, February 25, 2011

"Obamacare" and "Romneycare" as Pejoratives

A "pejorative," according to my dictionary, is a word or expression that expresses disapproval or criticism. The political problem is that one party’s pejorative may be another party’s restorative.

Take Obamacare or Romneycare.

To proponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the term “Obamacare” lacks dignity and fairness. "Obamacare" crams two concepts – extending coverage and making it affordable for all – into a word used to demean it.

That isn’t fair, says Jeff Horwitt, a pollster with the Democratic firm Hart Research Associates, "The aim of the bill is to make health care more affordable and make sure more people are covered, whereas, to me, 'Obamacare' is focused on one person, and literally, it's about him taking care of someone or something: a Big Brother socialist caretaker."

But Republicans have enjoyed a heyday using “Obamacare” as a political grenade. In speeches and publications, most prominently the Wall Street Journal, conservatives, Tea partyers, and Republicans deploy “Obamacare” as a codeword for “government takeover.”

Besides, a Republican polling company Public Opinion Strategies (POS) found that in September 2010, 49 percent of registered voters reacted negatively to the term, compared to 29 percent who saw it favorably. And Stanford and University of Minnesota health care analysts, who conducted research on why voters went Republican in the November 2010 elections, said a negative perception of the health reform law contributed heavily to their decision to vote Republican.

Most Democrats regard health reform as President Obama’s signature achievement. Obama's re-election may ride on what the public (and the Supreme Court) thinks "Obamacare," or its verbal equivalent, represents.

Democratic sensitivity to use of “Obamacare” may be overdone. Every administration has a slogan that personifies its mission. President Roosevelt had the “New Deal,” President Kennedy the “The New Frontier,” and President Johnson the”War on Poverty.”

“Obamacare” is a portmanteau word - a word that combines two meanings – in the case of health reform, more coverage and lower costs. If “Obamacare works,’and it may, Democrats will be “In like Flynn”for generations to come. “Obamacare” could be just the ticket for Obama’s lasting legacy.

Now, “Romneycare. “ Inevitably, Mitt Romney’s Republican opponents are using “Romneycare “ as a pejorative against him. “Romneycare ”refers to the now five year old universal coverage bill passed during Romney’s term as Governor. The people of Massachusetts say they like the bill – for Massachusetts, but not for the rest of the country. At least, that is the main reason they gave for voting for Republican Scott Brown as their senator.

But alas, “Masscare,” as Democrats prefer to call it, or “Messcare,” as Republicans would have it, has proven extremely costly, producing the highest premiums in the nation, the longest waiting times to see a primary care doctor, some of the nation’s most crowded emergency rooms, a soaring state budget deficit.

Romney’s political rival, Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, said Romney ought to just fess up and declare the Massachusetts plan a failed experiment .

Nonsense, says Romney, every state should decide what is good of its own people. What’s good for the Bay State may not be good for other states. “A one-size-fits-all plan, “says a Romney spokesman, “ doesn’t fit for the rest of the entire nation.”

Nor does a one-size-fits-all word.

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