About a week ago now I was tired of NPR using the term "Obamacare" instead of the laws real name, The Affordable Care Act.
And so I sent email and Facebook messages to the local and national NPR offices:
Dear NPR, please call the law by its rightful name, The Affordable Care Act, and not the prejudicial name its opponents want it called.
Both offices wrote back. The local office, RIPR
, said that they would use the real name during its initial reference in a story and Obomacare afterwards. Further, "[...] because (like it or not) that's what many people know it by." I was peeved by this sloppiness and the lack of an historical grasp of the significance of names and so sent a rather strident response (for which I did apologize later). The message I receive from NPR's ombudsman was remarkable:
Thank you for your inquiry. We asked Ron Elving about the term and here is his reponse:
Initially, the term was coined and used by opponents of the ACA. It had a sneering kind of tone to it, implying that the president was trying to imitate or piggyback on the popularity of Medicare. (As indeed a lot of commercial products have done since 1965.) The White House initially resisted the term for this reason, preferring Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In the headline wars of the cable tv news world, of course, PPACA never had a chance. Obamacare became increasingly common.
So some while ago, the White House did a turnaround and embraced the term. I am attaching a copy of the memo David Axelrod wrote about the term and why it was okay to use it as far as he was concerned. Axelrod was still in the White House as the top political advisor at the time and is now in Chicago co-directing the re-elect campaign.
From: David Axelrod
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2012 17:34
Subject: Hell yeah, I like Obamacare
I like Obamacare.
I'm proud of it -- and you should be, too.
Here's why: Because it works.
So if you're with me, say it: "I like Obamacare."
Obamacare means never having to worry about getting sick and running up against a lifetime cap on insurance coverage. It gives parents the comfort of knowing their kids can stay on their insurance until they're 26, and that a "pre-existing condition" like an ear infection will never compromise their child's coverage.
It's about ending the practice of letting insurance companies charge women 50 percent more -- just because they're women.
And Obamacare can save seniors hundreds of dollars a year on prescription drugs -- and gives them access to preventive care that is saving their lives.
President Obama never lost sight of the fact that this reform is about people. People like his own mother, who spent the last years of her life fighting cancer -- and fighting with insurance companies, too.
That shouldn't happen. And because of Obamacare, it can't.
So next time you hear someone railing against Obamacare, remember what they're actually saying they want to take away.
And, today, stand with me in saying, "Hell yeah, I'm for Obamacare":
P.S. -- Side note: Can you imagine if the opposition called Social Security "Roosevelt Security"? Or if Medicare was "LBJ-Care"? Seriously, have these guys ever heard of the long view?
If President Obama wants to call it Obamacare then I am dropping my opposition and joining those who are reclaiming it as a term for a positive accomplishment of his first term.