The New York Times is reporting that Frank Luntz, the wordsmith for the Republican Party, has circulated a memo in Washington DC advising Republicans on how to attack Democrats and President Obama for his proposals on health care reform.
The Times reports, "In the memorandum, Mr. Luntz said his polling and analysis had identified this as 'the best anti-Democrat message': "No Washington bureaucrat or health care lobbyist should stand between your family and your doctor. The Democrats want to put Washington politicians in charge of your health care."
If history has taught Democrats anything, it's this: attack the messenger. Let me just reinforce that point: Democrats used to avoid battling corporate messengers like Rush Limbaugh and instead they tried to focus on intellectual rebuttals.
For example: five years ago, a Sean Hannity-type character would say, "Sen. Kerry, your a traitor to your country." Kerry would then respond by laughing and saying something like, "Sean, I don't really agree. Let me tell you what I was able to accomplish in the Senate." (I admire and respect Kerry, but the guy--at least then--was too gentleman for these times.)
Now we know that Kerry should have attacked Hannity like President Obama's spokesperson, Robert Gibbs, did in this awesome exchange. Politico recently wrote about the success Democrats are enjoying in going after the messenger.
In the same way, Democrats need to go after Luntz and the insurance companies. But first they need to get specific about what they are fighting for. We need one solitary, specific goal. One accomplishment to set our sights on. Our goal is creating the option of a public plan. The option of a public plan. In other words: It is not for Republican politicians to decide that we are best left in the private insurance industry and the vicious cycle of ever-increasing premiums. We should be able to decide if we want to stay there.
The words "public health care plan option" need to be burned into the ears and minds of millions of Americans. Win or lose, Americans need to know that that is what is on the table. And they need to know now. When they understand that it will be left up to them to decide to join and that it will provide an alternative to private market-based and ever-increasing premiums, they ARE ALL FOR IT!!!
I have done a little polling myself...I am completing a drive to get 200 petitions from small business owners in support of the public plan option. My success rate in building consensus and getting a signature is nearly 90 percent, even at typically Right Wing business expos like those hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.
You know what really makes people angry--and will make them forget about the boogeyman of the government "standing between them and their shitty, expensive health care?" That the insurance corporation Anthem's profits increased 90 percent between 2004 and 2007 while its membership increased only 2-3 percent. They made millions last year during a recession economy and they are trying to raise rates 20 percent this year. You show me another business in this economy that could raise rates 20 percent every year and get away with it. They wouldn't. They would go out of business tomorrow.
Another way to score a touchdown of agreement and bring to a rousing ovation the tens of thousands of spectators watching this political debate is to make clear who supports a public plan option and who doesn't. "The insurance companies and most Republicans oppose giving YOU the option to join a public health care plan." Then asking this question: "Why do you think the insurance industries oppose the public plan option?" The answer: they know it will do a better job and win away a significant chunk of the market of consumers that they have cornered.
Democrats should not be afraid to sever ties with the insurance industry. Democrats should draw a line and promise all-out war of words on the insurance companies and the Republicans if those adversaries of the American people cross it with negative messaging on the Democrats. This issue has major potential to backfire on Republicans. Put Republicans in the same camp as these disgusting insurance companies over and over and over again. Watch their political fortunes continue to sink, leading to even greater Democratic gains in both the House and Senate in 2010.
The insurance industry says it opposes a public plan option because they fear a it would "crowd out" the private insurance industry. I will look at a business owner in the eye and say, "Let me translate this Washington DC speak for you. What they mean is, 'It will do a better, cheaper job.'"