Last week, GOP wordsmith Frank Luntz authored a new messaging memo defining the Republican rhetoric on health care reform, in which he argued that his poll-tested words “should be used by everyone” in order to hijack the health care debate. ThinkProgress noted that Luntz’s suggested talking points were quickly embraced by congressional Republicans.
On Bill Bennett’s radio show today, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) followed Luntz’s framing exactly. Here’s how Cantor’s rhetoric today lines up with Luntz’s suggestions:
LUNTZ: “Acknowledge the ‘crisis’ or suffer the consequences. … A better approach is to define the crisis in your terms. ‘If you’re one of the millions who can’t afford healthcare, it is a crisis.’”
CANTOR: “Listen Bill, there’s a health crisis. You know when you have, don’t have coverage, that’s a crisis for you and your family. We need to address it.”
LUNTZ: “The arguments against the Democrats’ healthcare plan must center around ‘politicians,’ ‘bureaucrats,’ and ‘Washington.’”
CANTOR: “But the answer is not to lay it on Washington, to pump up what Washington‘s role in this.”
LUNTZ: “You’ll notice we recommend the phrase ‘government takeover’ rather than ‘government run’ or ‘government controlled.’”
CANTOR: “We all need to be standing up and saying no to a government takeover of our system.”
Listen to Cantor here:
As the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky has detailed, Luntz’s strategy is to “obstruct health reform by ignoring what Obama is actually offering.” But Luntz is very candid about his strategy of misdirection. Since Republicans currently have absolutely no plan for reforming health care, Luntz advises that it is best 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.”
BENNETT: Let’s go to health care. We just got you for another two minutes. When will this debate begin in earnest and is there, do you have some concern that some of the corporate types, some of the health care providers are are cooperating a little too much with this agenda?
CANTOR: Listen Bill, there’s a health crisis. You know when you have, don’t have coverage, that’s a crisis for you and your family. We need to address it. But I’m concerned that not enough folks, certainly the small business folks and the job creators are not standing up and saying, and insisting, on drawing a line that there not be a government takeover of the system.
CANTOR: You know, and I understand, that there’s so many small businesses are buckling up under the pressure of increased health care costs. But the answer is not to lay it on Washington, to pump up what Washington’s role in this, which is to mean to grab more taxpayer dollars into an already bloated and system that can stand a lot of reform.
CANTOR: That’s not the answer. So, I’m concerned that we, we are moving down the pike here. The administration has been very coy about its details and I’m very worried that people are going to be caught unawares, which is why I think it’s so important that you raise the point. We all need to be standing up and saying no to a government take over of our system.
BENNETT: You build coalitions whereever you can. Do you see some Democrats who might be peeled off in your efforts to block a national system?
CANTOR: I think so. I think what we need to be discussing.
BENNETT: We have thirty seconds.
CANTOR: Is what a national system means in other countries. You know God forbid if you’re a woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK right now. You can’t access treatment until three to six months. That would never nor should it fly in America.
CANTOR: And so, we’ve got to begin to focus on patient-centered care. What works with our system is a doctor-patient relationship and the access that a working mom has to the pediatrician that she wants to see her kids go to. That works. We don’t need bureacrat in Washington deciding on the type of care or the timeliness of the care that individuals should have.