Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Political Framing And the Health Care Reform

I was going to write something about the reform itself but I'm exhausted right now and so will only write on whatever takes my fancy. And this time it's the following quote:

"Kentuckians want to know how spending trillions of dollars we don't have on a plan that raises health insurance premiums and taxes on families and small businesses is good for healthcare or for jobs or for the economy," McConnell said.

Who knows what Kentuckians really want? Politicians always second-guess groups: Americans want this or that. The idea is to make the reader or listener believe that she or he is wrong if not agreeing with that general statement.

And what about all those trillions of dollars we don't have? It never stopped the Republicans from supporting wars abroad when the president was a Republican. Never mind if the reform actually doesn't cost that much. The propaganda would be the same in any case.

The taxes, as you note, never fall on individuals living alone or on large businesses, only on families and small businesses. The Democratic framing talks about working families instead of families but otherwise agrees. It's quite sad how nobody cares about all those millions of people who live alone.

This quote is a little different but still part of the propaganda framing:

"This is the latest report to confirm that the current healthcare reform proposal fails to bend the healthcare cost curve," said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry lobbying organization .

Why not just say that it fails to slow down the rise in health care costs or fails to reduce the costs? What's so clever about the bending of the cost curve, and which of the many possible curves (total, average, marginal and short- or long-term for each) are these guys talking about? Given that even the estimation of those curves is tricky, why talk about the bending of the curve?