By Ben Adler
Remember when the word “Obamacare” was a slur? Republicans coined that term to describe the Affordable Care Act, hoping it would reinforce their claim that the law was President Obama’s personal power grab, rammed down the throats of an unwilling electorate.
That claim was always untrue. The law was written in Congress and passed by majorities in both houses, including a filibuster proof super-majority in the U.S. Senate. But because the ACA did not poll very well and was blamed for Democratic congressional losses in the 2010 mid-term elections, Democrats avoided the term. They preferred to remind the public that the law was a collective effort.
With a president to re-elect, the wheel has turned again. As the law’s provisions take effect—extending the time that children can stay on their parent’s insurance, sending rebate checks from insurance companies to regular citizens, and so on—Democrats have become more confident in their ability to sell it to the public. That means they want Obama to get his credit for expanding health insurance coverage to nearly every American.
Throughout the Democratic National Convention this week, speakers on the podium have sung the ACA’s praises. But what is more surprising is that many of them have even done so while referring to it as Obamacare. By my count 11 of the speeches—and that’s just counting those whose text has been sent out as of this writing—use the term Obamacare.
This is not some mere coincidence. Convention speeches are vetted by the campaign. And “Obamacare” has appeared in the speeches of top Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. Clyburn even took on the question of the name itself, saying to cheers, “We should not run from the word Obamacare. I, for one, am glad that Obama cares.”