Earlier this week, a memo written by right-wing message guru Frank Luntz was leaked instructing the Republican Party on how to frame the health care debate in order to defeat progressive reform. Since his pivotal role in helping craft Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, Luntz has had an impressive record of cloaking regressive and conservative policies with carefully poll-tested language. For instance, Luntz is credited with persuading Republicans to use the intentionally misleading term “death tax” to describe the estate tax.
According to CQ, Republicans are enthusiastically embracing Luntz and his health care memo. At a private workshop organized by the House leadership, Luntz was welcomed with applause and cries of “Welcome home!” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) gushed, “We look to him for how do we express the things that we believe in ways that are effective.”
Luntz’s health care memo urges Republicans to denounce progressive reforms as ideas based upon a “committee of Washington bureaucrats.” The memo then calls for Republicans to strongly emphasize the “protection of the personalized doctor-patient relationship” because this approach allows Americans to believe that the GOP is doing something to “protect and improve something good“:
ThinkProgress compiled a video featuring Rep. Phil Gingrich (R-GA), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) all embracing the vapid “patient-doctor” talking point in the past 48 hours. Watch it:
As the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky details, Luntz’s strategy is to “obstruct health reform by ignoring what Obama is actually offering.” In all fairness, Luntz is very candid about his strategy of misdirection. Since Republicans currently have absolutely no plan for reforming health care, Luntz says to avoid projecting a policy plan and instead focus on language that “captures not just what Americans want to see but exactly what they want to hear.”
Indeed, Luntz also provides his polling and language advice to a plethora of health insurance companies.