Wednesday, March 08, 2017


I've always thought Republicans were very good at marketing their message -- much better than they are at legislating or governing -- but they need a memorable name for their new white-elephant health care bill and they've got nothing:
He built his career in large part by plastering his name on skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, books, wines and steaks, but there appears to be one place President Donald Trump does not want his favorite five-letter word — the Republican health care bill.

... When asked during the daily White House briefing on Tuesday whether the White House would embrace the House GOP plan as Trumpcare, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price demurred.

“I prefer to call it patient care,” Price said.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer was pressed on the same issue. “We’re less concerned with labels right now and more in terms of action and results,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway was also reluctant to commit to any particular nickname for the legislation.

“I’ll call it Trumpcare if you want to, but I didn’t hear President Trump say to any of us, ‘Hey I want my name on that,’” Conway told Fox News. “We’re happy it is the American Health Care Act. This is serious stuff. This isn’t about branding according to someone’s name.”

A White House spokesperson, however, was more emphatic. “It’s not Trumpcare,” the spokesperson said Wednesday. “We will be calling it by its official name,” the American Health Care Act.
Unless you have a really catchy alternative, this bill is going to be called "Something-care," and "Trumpcare" is an obvious choice, as is "Ryancare." (Personally, I prefer "GOPcare" or "Republicare" -- I say hang the bill around the entire party's collective neck -- but naming it for Trump or Ryan works for me, too.)

A name with the suffix "-care" is apparently a problem on the right:
“Pretty much anything with the pejorative suffix on it — ‘care’ — is going to be viewed unfavorably by conservatives,” said former longtime Mitt Romney spokesman Ryan Williams....

“Anything with the word ‘care’ in it pretty much sounds bad to people these days,” Williams said.
So why didn't congressional Republicans or the White House make even a minimal effort to head off this problem? I would have expected them to huddle with Frank Luntz and come up with a name for their bill that was catchy and kitschy and ultra-patriotic. I expected the bill to be called "the Health Freedom Act" or "Reagancare" or "The Eagle Holding a Bible in One Claw and an AR-15 in the Other Health Restoration Act of 2017."

But no -- Republicans gave it a name, the American Health Care Act, that not only was dull and forgettable but also was absurdly close to the official name of the hated Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act. (The names are so similar that the usually careful Vox referred to the GOP bill in the lead paragraph of one story as the "Affordable Health Care Act." The story was posted yesterday and still hasn't been corrected.)

The name of the Republican bill is so unmemorable that for a while today many people forgot that they'd heard it and fell for a mistaken story in England's Independent that said the real name of the bill is "The World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017." (That is, in fact, the name of a real GOP health care bill, but it's not the GOP leadership's bill.)

Why was no effort put into branding this thing? Republicans are losing their propaganda touch.

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