Is/was it unfair to call ObamaCare, ObamaCare?

By Dave Andrusko

NPR Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos

NPR Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos

Rasmussen Reports tells us today that less than one in three likely voters (30%) believes that under ObamaCare the health care system will get better versus 51% who said it will make the health care system worse. Last week a Washington Post/ABC News poll addressed two related questions.

First, asked how has ObamaCare has thus far affected the health care system, almost twice as many (36%) said the law has worsened the health care system as said it has improved the health care system (19%). Second, by a ten point margin (52% to 42%), the public opposes ObamaCare. ABC News’s Damla Ergun added, “In 16 ABC-Post polls since August 2009, it has never received majority support.”

I thought of that when I ran into a piece by NPR’s ombudsmen Edward Schumacher-Matos that I had filed away to look at and then forgot until this morning. Schumacher-Matos is exactly the kind of ombudsman you’d expect at NPR. He appears to buy into the curious notion that ObamaCare unceasing unpopularity has been a failure of packing/messaging, not the public’s deep skepticism.

This particular column was titled, “What We Hear When NPR Refers to Obamacare,” and—surprise, surprise—addresses those readers who are miffed that the “Affordable Care Act” has long been called ObamaCare, even occasionally by NPR! (Never mind that Obama himself has said he “rather likes” the term.)

Schumacher-Matos refers to a column he wrote three years ago when he was the ombudsman for The Miami Herald in which he criticized the use of “ObamaCare” in a headline. And then he expresses sympathy for one “thoughtful” NPR correspondent who wrote “I believe NPR is falling into a trap set by the Tea Party, conservatives and the health care industry.”

But, darn, wouldn’t you know it, Stuart Seidel, NPR’s managing editor for standards and practice, writes Schumacher-Mato, advising him, in effect, to take a breath. Back in the bad old days NPR avoided use of the word, but, Seidel concludes, “ I’m confident that NPR listeners and readers understand that whatever its origins, the term ‘Obamacare’ has lost its pedigree as a politically charged term.”

ObamaCare, then as now, was perfectly descriptive. This WAS the President’s primary domestic initiative, often dubbed his “signature” domestic accomplishment.

That ObamaCare was and is unpopular and was and is a law many Democrats are trying to run away from only confirms the shrewdness of President Kennedy’s adage that “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”

Send to Kindle