Monday, August 03, 2009
Editor’s note: In his new book, Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Health Reform, the physician and former presidential candidate devotes a chapter to the forces arrayed against substantive health reform -- the insurance industry, big business, some pharmaceutical companies and political conservatives. The following is an excerpt in which he discusses the long fight against progress mounted by conservatives.
During the early 1990s, under the leadership of Representative Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) and bolstered by the ideological support of the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and Manhattan Institute, Republicans successfully defeated President Clinton’s health reform effort. Conservatives of all stripes argued that healthcare reform was “creeping socialism” or “big government,” denied the existence of a healthcare crisis, or co-opted the term reform to push their own agendas and dilute support for a comprehensive solution to the nation’s healthcare crisis.
Unfortunately, today’s Republicans are no less inflammatory. Relying on a very similar playbook, conservatives are distorting progressive proposals in an effort to obstruct reform. In May 2009, GOP wordsmith Frank Luntz authored a new messaging memo defining the Republican rhetoric on healthcare reform. The memo, titled “The Language of Healthcare 2009,” “is based on polling results and . . . captures not just what Americans want to see but exactly what they want to hear.” The memo suggests “The Words That Work” and instructs that “from today forward, they should be used by everyone.”...(Remainder.)