The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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November 9, 2013

Stop calling Obamacare Obamacare


Which means the country is still very split as the health law percolates into regulatory ubiquity. This really isn't an argument against it, merely an observation on a topic that — three years later and counting — is continuing to stir ideological emotions well into the 2014 election cycle. We can certainly blame the GOP for that, but overusing a derogatory name the Republicans created can't help the cause.

How annoying it is to find the law's faithful using "Obamacare" as much as the demagogues who coined it. Just as irritating is the media's use of the term in headlines and cable news tickers. That's not the real name of the law, merely a nasty conservative interpretation of it.

Making it harder is when the president also uses it as if he trademarked it. Is it ego? Ask him. But as his landmark policy's rollout sputters, he might be wise to engage in a messaging refresh rather than stay the course with crusty themes. There's still a good chunk of the country that can't stand him. So why assume they'll like a law with his name branded on it?

Granted, it's the same bloc of voting hillbillies from districts as red as a Santa Claus suit, and granted they didn't vote for him in the first place. But this debate is unnecessarily noisy — and costly, too: more than $26 billion and some jobs, we last heard in the shutdown postmortem analysis. The least the president could do is put out some edict or an internal party memo or something. Win hearts and minds one low hanging fruit at a time.

Politics is a messaging and optics game. On the subject of an overhaul for a flawed health- care system, the law should never have been about him. It should be about providing affordable and accessible health care to Americans. Period. The polling on "Obamacare" speaks for itself. On the eve of the ACA rollout, a CNBC poll discovered that "30 percent of the public [didn't] know what ACA [was] versus only 12 percent [for] Obamacare." Compounding that was the 46 percent who opposed "Obamacare," versus the 37 percent who opposed the ACA.

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