Democratic Congresswoman: “Obamacare” May Be A Disaparaging Term

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz suggested last week that the term “ObamaCare” was disparaging and shouldn’t be allowed on the House floor:

House Republicans and Democrats started Friday morning’s debate over whether to defund last year’s healthcare law, and as part of this debate sparred over whether members should be allowed to call that law “ObamaCare.”

After two House Republicans called it “ObamaCare,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) asked the chairman whether these “disparaging” remarks should be allowed on the House floor.

“That is a disparaging reference to the president of the United States; it is meant as a disparaging reference to the president of the United States, and it is clearly in violation of the House rules against that,” she said.

I’ve found myself referring to the health care reform law in different ways depending on the context or mood of the post I’m writing. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to use the legal name of the bill, but as James Joyner pointed out a couple months ago, that’s as much a product of political propaganda as the term Obamacare is:

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a great example of propagandistic bill naming.  What heartless bastard could oppose protecting patients?  And who doesn’t want care to be affordable?  That the act in question will provide very little in the way of protection and even less to ensure affordability, though, makes it a rather silly name.   And PPACA doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue as an acronym or initialism.

ObamaCare, by contrast, is short, memorable, and nonjudgmental.  It has a nice parallelism with Medicare, a very popular program with similar goals, and correctly identifies the president who pushed it through Congress.   And, even as one who opposed Obama’s election and the passage of this act, the term “ObamaCare” doesn’t conjure up negative imagery.

Indeed. Besides, who could think that “ObamaCare” is disparaging? It’s got “Obama” and “Care” in there. Sounds almost complimentary.  So no, Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz, ObamaCare is not a disparaging term and I, for one, will continue using it.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Healthcare Policy, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. An Interested Party says:

    “Besides, who could think that ‘ObamaCare’ is disparaging?”

    Those who do not like Obama nor the care that the bill is supposed to deliver…

  2. Michael says:

    As usual fascistic Dems against free speech.

  3. Mr Evilwrench says:

    Huh? I always used the term myself, seeking maximum disparagement, both of the bill and the feckless runt that is credited with it, whether he really had anything to do with it or not.. So, um, sure it’s disparaging. What’s this dim bulb’s point?

  4. sam says:

    Hey, “Obamacare” is fine with me. And I do recall the shitfits on the right when Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative was called “Star Wars” by its detractors (= loopy, science fictiony program).

    Sauce for the Republican goose, sauce for the Democratic gander.

  5. Axel Edgren says:

    “As usual fascistic Dems against free speech.”

    You are incredibly lame.

    Anyway, I think the term is handy – the instant I see it used seriously, without irony or without an apologetic explanation preceding (“I think it is a stupid but also convenient term, deal with it”) I immediately stop reading because I know there is nothing worth reading.

  6. An Interested Party says:

    “What’s this dim bulb’s point?”

    Ahh, but you have made her point quite clearly while also demolishing Doug’s argument…well done…

  7. jwest says:

    Free speech is what liberals are all about. Using their open minds, and being respectful of different points of view, liberals show how intelligent people share ideas.

  8. Axel Edgren says:

    NY Post? Get the heffalump outta here.

  9. jwest says:


    You’re right. The Post probably made up this story. I tried to check it at the NY Times, but they don’t cover stories like this.

    I’ll bet the students at Columbia listened respectfully to this wounded veteran, thanked him for his service and carefully considered what he had to say.

  10. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    It’s not disparaging. It’s an oxymoron.

  11. Vast Variety says:

    Calling it Obamacare is tantamount to calling something you dislike gay. It’s meant to show disapproval and is derogatory. Should you or anyone else stop using it however? That’s your own choice as I support your right to free speech.