Battle erupts over ‘TrumpCare’
A war of words has broken out over the GOP’s ObamaCare replacement bill, with Democrats branding the legislation “TrumpCare” in their attempt to derail it.
The White House is rejecting the term, which Democrats from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) on down are using to attack the Republican push to repeal large portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“It’s always more effective to have a straightforward, simple, branded line of attack against your opponent,” a Democratic campaign operative told The Hill.
“To the extent that ‘TrumpCare’ is a brand or phrase that both encapsulates the anger voters will have toward the policies this plan puts forward, as well as the anger that voters feel toward Donald Trump and their excitement and enthusiasm to oppose Trump, that will potent tool.”
In a five-minute speech Wednesday on the Senate floor, Schumer used the term “TrumpCare” 15 times.
“TrumpCare will make healthcare in America worse in almost every way and likely leave more Americans uninsured,” Schumer said. “With respect to women, TrumpCare would send us back to the dark ages.”
The battle over the labeling of the legislation is a role reversal for the two parties. Republicans began calling the ACA “ObamaCare” early in their opposition to former President Obama’s reform effort. Similarly, the administration initially resisted the term.
Now, Democrats are in lockstep with the Senate Democratic leader.
The party’s primary campaign arms — the Democratic National Committee, as well as the House and Senate committees — are flooding the inboxes of supporters to rally opposition to “TrumpCare.”
Legions of Democratic lawmakers have taken up the term, which liberal writers and commentators like Jonathan Chait and Chris Hayes using it with aplomb. The “TrumpCare” hashtag was trending on Twitter in the wake of bill’s release on Tuesday.
The White House is steering clear of putting the president’s personal stamp on the legislation.
“We’re not into labels,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at a daily briefing with reporters.
Health And Human Services Secretary Tom Price said he prefers to call it “patient care.”
“I’ll let others provide a description for it,” he said.
And White House counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted that the law should go by its official name — the American Health Care Act.
“It’s the American Health Care Act, and I think it’s aptly named that for that reason,” Conway said. “It wants everybody to have access to coverage, and that didn’t happen under ObamaCare. I’ll call it ‘TrumpCare’ if you want to, but I didn’t hear President Trump say to any of us: ‘I want my name on that.’
“It’s not about branding according to someone’s name, it’s serious business.”
In television interviews, principal supporters of the bill on Capitol Hill, like Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.), are similarly using the official name or shortening it to AHCA.
During the debate over the ACA, Democrats initially rejected dubbing the legislation ObamaCare, in part because Republicans had used the term “HillaryCare” to defeat a healthcare push during the Clinton administration.
An argument over the term even broke out on the House floor in 2011, with Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz arguing the phrase should be a violation of House rules because “it is meant as a disparaging reference to the president of the United States.”
Democrats began to embrace the term about two years after the law passed, with Obama himself declaring: “I have not problem with people saying Obama cares. I do care!”
Other opponents of the GOP’s healthcare bill are getting in on the labeling act.
Conservatives on Capitol Hill and in the media are dubbing the legislation “ObamaCare 2.0” as they pressure Republican leaders to repeal more of the ACA.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board has used the term “ObamaCare 2.0,” as has Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), one of the bill’s fiercest GOP critics.
In an interview on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, responded directly to Conway for her description of the bill.
“This bill is just ObamaCare in a different form. … This is smoke and mirrors when we suggest that we’re gonna dupe the American people, we’re gonna do this bill behind closed doors and roll it out and expect the American people to believe it,” Meadows said. “Let me just tell you, they’re smarter than that and they understand that this is just Obamacare with a different label.”
Other opponents of the House’s legislation are trying to make it an albatross for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Breitbart News, the conservative website that relishes making GOP leadership’s life difficult, is attacking the measure as “Speaker Ryan’s ObamaCare 2.0.”
The conservative Club for Growth went even further, calling the bill “RyanCare.”