In May of 2009, GOP wordsmith Frank Luntz released a messaging memo instructing Republicans how to derail Democratic efforts to pass health care reform. The memo instructed Republicans to “acknowledge the crisis” and need for reform and argue that health care reform would lead to “the government setting standards of care,” government “rationing care,” and would “put the Washington bureaucrats in charge of health care.” “This plays into more favorable Republican territory by protecting individual care while downplays the need for a comprehensive national plan,” the memo states.
Republicans have been successfully deploying Luntz’s strategy for most last year and even used his tactics at yesterday’s health care summit. The Republican leadership acknowledged the crisis and agreed with some of the Democrats’ reforms, but demanded that the President abandon the existing legislation and “start over” on reform:
Watch a compilation:
Throughout the summer of 2009, Republicans claimed that they actually agreed with 80 percent of the Democrats’ bill. In September 2009, for instance, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) told a town hall meeting that “Republicans and Democrats agree on 80 percent of fixing the nation’s healthcare system.” Rep.Charles Boustany (R-LA), who delivered the Republican response to the President’s congressional address in September, also said, “I would venture to say that we agree on about 80% of the issues right now. It’s just a matter of hashing out those few areas where we disagree, but there’s really not been that kind of real discussion, and it needs to happen.”
Unfortunately, even after yesterday’s “real discussion” and a drawn out negotiating process that only moved the President’s health care principles further to the right, Republicans are still more interested in deploying poll-tested catch phrases and strategies than genuinely addressing the health care crisis.