Posts Tagged ‘Frank Luntz’

Lie of the Year: Reform Equals a Government Takeover of Healthcare

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

The most egregious lie of the year, according to PolitiFact.com, is the suggestion that President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform law is a “government takeover of healthcare.” This is the opinion of PolitiFact.com,  the St. Petersburg Times’ independent fact-checking website.  In early 2009, Republican strategist Frank Luntz urged GOP legislators to call the bill a “government takeover.”  According to Luntz, “Takeovers are like coups.  They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.”  PolitiFact’s runner-up lie was Representative Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) statement that President Obama’s trip to India would cost taxpayer $200 million a day.

Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said “The label ‘government takeover’ has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in healthcare as a ‘takeover’.”  Although the new law increases government oversight of health insurance companies, it relies on private companies and the free market.

Others are in agreement with PolitiFact’s stance.  The online magazine Slate said “the proposed healthcare reform does not take over the system in any sense.”  Princeton University professor Uwe Reinhardt, a healthcare economics expert, wrote in the New York Times that “Yes, there would be a substantial government-mandated reorganization of this relatively small corner of the private health insurance market (that serves people who have been buying individual policies).  But that hardly constitutes a government takeover of American healthcare.”

When a spokesman for incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was asked about Republicans’ insistence on using the phrase – even now that it’s been thoroughly debunked – the response was “We believe that the job-killing ObamaCare law will result in a government takeover of healthcare.  That’s why we have pledged to repeal it, and replace it with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs.”