Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Words....Just Words....

Words matter.
Ask any politician.
And the vocabulary of the health care debate is taking form.

Maggie Mahar takes a look at the manipulative spinning of a card-carrying wordsmith, Dr. Frank Luntz.

Luntz, the author of the bestselling book “Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear,” has been involved in creating much of the language Republican lawmakers used from 1994 through 2004, but was tossed out by the House leadership in 2005. One of his coups was popularizing the phrase “death tax” for “inheritance tax.”

Go read the Politico post first, then Maggie Mahar's remarks.
The title is a nearly perfect definition of how Conservatives use words to mislead. Luntz shows no respect for language. For example, he takes credit for renaming the “inheritance tax” the “death tax.” In truth, people who die are not taxed. The heirs to America’s biggest fortunes find their windfall trimmed if an estate exceeds $3.5 million ($7 million for a couple). This is a tax on the legacy—i.e., an “inheritance tax.” (Note: in 2009, only 6,200 estates will be affected.)

This morning's news reports of yesterday's White House minuet featured the president and six Goliaths discussing what passes for health care in America. I'm beginning to appreciate the man's inscrutable smile in the same way that we learned to love when Clint Eastwood said "Go ahead. Make. My. Day."

Last night's Evening News on PBS included a couple of polite ladies in conversation about the health care debate. To the uninitiated viewer they seemed to be having a civil discussion, but between the lines one could make out the shape of an elephant: Medicare, Part E, the "everyone" option. At this point no one has mentioned that possibility in an official capacity, except to say that "some people" have talked about it. But make no mistake about it, that, together with the even more dreaded "single-payer option," are the ticking bombs bringing big shots to the president's dance.

Let us hope that behind the scenes Rham Emanuel is doing the dirty work, sharpening the blades, oiling the gears and getting the stomper ready when the Congressional sausage grinder goes to work.

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