I’ve been calling the health care reform bill passed in 2010 and being argued in the Supreme Court this week “ACA” because I’ve thought it was the most neutral term. Affordable Care Act or Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act both sound like propaganda to me…not even close to the worst bill name in that regard, but still. And ACA seemed even more neutral than PPACA, partially because to my ears it’s even less associated with the underlying words.

Obamacare? Only one side of the debate was using it, for one thing. For another I don’t like putting it all on the president; it’s as much WaxmanPelosiKennedyDoddHarkinCare (just to name a few) as it is Obamacare; generally, I’m just not real happy about adding to the presidential emphasis in US political culture. A third issue: the bill isn’t really one bill, and one thing; it’s a combination of various proposals, with the exchanges/subsidies/mandate as perhaps the core element, but all sorts of other reforms and regulations as major initiatives within it. For whatever reason, “ACA” evokes that to me more than “Obamacare” does.

The first of these objections no longer exists, however, with the Obama campaign embracing “Obamacare.” The second and third objections still stand (although the third one is awfully subjective to begin with). I’m still, however, very wary about the presidential focus, but at the same time I don’t want to sound as if I’m being snobby or disconnected from the general discussion. What do you all think? 

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

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Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.