Should we not call it “Obamacare” anymore?

October 3rd, 2013

When deciding on a title for Unprecedented, I labored a lot over whether to use the phrase “Obamacare” (I suspect my publisher would have forced me to, but I still grappled with what I wanted). I ultimately decided to go with Obamacare based on the President’s own words, shortly after NFIB v. Sebelius:

When a reporter from Rolling Stone asked President Obama if he would “mind if historians call the achievement Obamacare?” He replied, “I’ll be very proud. . . . As time goes on, as people see what it does, as it gets refined and improved, people will say, ‘This was the last piece to our basic social compact.’”

The President also used it on his Organizing for America (or is it Action?) web site, on a signup page titled “I Like Obamacare.”


The official Facebook page is titled “Obamacare” (with over half a million likes), and it still refers to the law against Republican attacks “Obamacare.”


Also, on the floor of the Senate, Democrats consistently call it Obamacare–from Harry Reid to Dick Durbin all the way down.

So why are news outlets, like NPR now shifting away from using Obamacare? See this NPR memo.

“‘Obamacare’ seems to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular. And it seems to be on our air and in our copy a great deal. (I haven’t counted, and I’m not going to count: numbers don’t add up to good journalism.) But word choices do leave an impression. Please avoid overusing ‘Obamacare.’ On first reference, it’s best to refer to the ‘Affordable Care Act’ or ‘the health care law.’ On later references, feel free to use ‘Obamacare’ but mix it up with other ways to refer to the law.”

This is the word the President’s own organization consistently uses. This is the words members of Congress use.

This law is now Obamacare. The President is stuck with this law, bearing his name. As he told Rolling Stone, ““I’ll be very proud” if it is called Obamacare.

Only time will tell if he remains proud of this law.

One other style note. Is it ObamaCare or Obamacare. I actually fought with my editor over this. I wanted the former, but the editor insisted on the latter. I thought it was easier to read, as a portmanteau.

None of which explains why some news organizations — looking at you, Fox News — sometimes cap the “C” in the term, rendering it “ObamaCare.”

The Chicago Tribune’s Joe Knowles tells Prince he advised staffers to “note the lowercase ‘c.’”