How health care reform became ‘a Washington takeover’

That the town hall meetings of August were something less than spontaneous should surprise no one. Whether for health care or any other issue, it’s hard to generate crowds in the dog days of summer without some organization.

But Rolling Stone magazine says it has come across a May memo in which pollster Frank Luntz outlined the Republican approach to the Democratic initiative. In essence, the Luntz memo became a script for the GOP and town hall organizers, briefing them not just on what to say, but how to say it.

From the magazine:

The logic of the language is simple, Luntz writes: “Takeovers are like coups — they both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.” For a third of all Americans, he adds, the top worry about health care reform is “being denied a procedure or medication because a Washington bureaucrat says no.” Luntz concludes by telling Republicans how best to play the fear card. “It is essential that ‘deny’ and ‘denial’ enter the conservative lexicon immediately,” he writes, “because it is at the core of what scares Americans most about a government takeover of health care.”

Distributed widely to Republicans on Capitol Hill, the memo framed the right-wing attack on health care reform. What Luntz describes as “the best anti-Democrat message” is by now familiar to everyone in America: “No Washington bureaucrat should stand between your family and your doctor… The Democrats want to put Washington politicians in charge of your health care.”

Read the entire Luntz memo here.

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18 comments Add your comment


September 29th, 2009
3:26 pm

How dare the conservatives organize to fight the annointed one.


September 29th, 2009
3:56 pm

No kidding Ed, we should be tared and feathered for disagreeing with Obama. I helped organize a Tea Party where I live. Do I need to fear Uncle Sam may be listening to my phone calls?

They just don’t get it. It’s the policies stupid we oppose, not the person.

Loud & Rephugly

September 29th, 2009
4:35 pm

Wow, y’all are really brave standing up for corporations while your fellow citizens get scroooooed. GOOD FOR YOU! Defend the profit God! ORGANIZE! Fight any and all attempts to moderate greed run amok. Insurance company CEOs DESERVE those yachts! So what if they have to deny claims for a five year old typo to do it? It’s about VALUES, man! EFF the poor. EFF the sick. EFF the family who can’t get an insurance policy because one of the kids has asthma. EFF the family who loses their house because Daddy had a heart attack. Ed, Soldier man, y’all are my HEROES!! Keep foamin’ at the mouths, (and breathe through your nose) my buddies. I’ll see you at the next teabag ball!


September 29th, 2009
5:32 pm

Sounds to me Loud you are the only one “foaming” at the mouth. Did I say I was opposed any reform? No. I am in favor of tort reform, buying health insurance across state lines and a reasonable way to stop denials for pre-existing illness. Do insurance compnay CEO’s make alot of money? Sure. So do baseball players, movie actors and yes even presidents that use Air Force One for a “date night” in New York City.

Chill out Loud. There are other reasonable solutions to this problem.

Chris Mathews is covered in his own spittle

September 29th, 2009
8:23 pm

Give Jumbo G a pass. His own Democrats killed 2 Obamacare/gov’t run amendments today. He is just following the talking points DNC. And Ed it is only ok for lefties to organize and protest and hang folks in effigy and call them Nazis or Hitler or riot and raise hell and vandalize. When republicans organize the even clean up after themselves, how shocking! Those GOPers must be stopped. I guess there are some “secret” Repubicans in the senate that pretend to be democrats so they can stop giv’t healthcare. I bet Bush put them up to it.


September 29th, 2009
8:24 pm

And I thought this was going to be informative. Sigh …

Owl Gore

September 29th, 2009
8:31 pm

The left is in full retreat on healthcare. I love it. Now it is Luntz’s fault. This is too awesome. You liberals are too funny. Thanks for the laugh Galloway, thanks a bunch!!.. Hahahahahahah


September 29th, 2009
8:36 pm

And how is this any different form Obama’s staff of focus group masters who study and test every word before Obama’s teleprompter gets loaded?

Obama talks to Oprah more than Gen McCrystol

September 29th, 2009
11:23 pm

It doesn’t take a Frank Luntz memo to figure out that Healthcare Reform is just another big government program engineered by the Democrats in an attempt to consolidate more power for themselves. Note to Loud – this might come as a shock but there are a bunch of Democrats that are wealthy and make a good living. To name just two …. Obama and Biden.


September 30th, 2009
9:37 am

Why is it ok for a local Politician – Sonny Purdue – to come between me and my doctor then?

The State Health Plan will cut off THOUSANDS of Georgians from seeing the doctor of THEIR choice come January 1st! Why is that OK then?


September 30th, 2009
9:54 am

Insurance companies and drug companies own congress. They have poured so much money into propaganda that they have convinced millions of people to work tirelessly against their own interests. As long as employer-paid health insurance premiums are a cost of doing business in the U.S., our goods and services will never be competitive with the rest of the world’s..and our economy will continue it’s death spiral. As long as there is no universal health insurance requirement, the insurers will continue to cherry pick who they want to insure, leaving the rest of us uninsured or thrown onto Medicare/Medicaid–already existing government programs And the insurance and drug company PACS & operatives are pouring endless millions into this retain the existing completely dysfunctional system. They have endless millions to spend to maintain the status quo because they have billions of OUR money.


September 30th, 2009
10:07 am

Yes the drug and insurance companies do own congress Zeb. Then to make sure they maintain the power they get all the crazies riled up to end all meaningful reform.

I love this line from the memo, “The arguments against Democrats’ must center around “politicians, bureaucrats, and “Washington,” not, the free market, tax incentives, or competition.

Notice all the attacks here on the Dem plan. Not one discusses anything remotely close to the real issues. Talking points, talking points, blah, blah, blah.

Cindy Rodham-Clinton_Sheehan

September 30th, 2009
3:37 pm

Far too many Democrat Senators, and I am afraid even Obama, are owned by the insurance companies. I had hope but nothing has changed. If the Democratic party really wanted to do this health care they could. They are sell outs. Obama need to write the plan and get the democrats to fall in line. I know, that at this late date, he will not. New boss same as the old boss.

Rule .303

September 30th, 2009
4:05 pm

“No Washington bureaucrat should stand between your family and your doctor… The Democrats want to put Washington politicians in charge of your health care.”

Should read…

“No Insurer should stand between your family and your doctor… The Republicans want to put Insurers in charge of your health care.”

There, all fixed now ;)

Dr. Aborto

September 30th, 2009
4:24 pm

Cindy is right. The Democratic Senators cannot even ban together for a woman’s right to excerise her right to determine her life. The longer this debate goes on the demoralized I feel. How dare the Democratic Senate that I worked so hard to elect turn its insurance funded back on me. What is going on??!!!????!!!???!!??

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

September 30th, 2009
5:39 pm

Gay Old Pervert party of Bush’s and Cheney’s 9/11 treason getting their marching orders from a bald closet-queen with a bad wig: Makes perfect sense.


September 30th, 2009
10:16 pm

I’ll carve the letter “B” in my face to defeat healthcare reform.

Facts Please

October 1st, 2009
1:00 pm

Reform is one thing but creating a government health insurance program is not only costly and will tax the americans right out of food and housing but its also against the Constitution.

Reform – tarp reform, insurance regulations taken away, ability to buy insurance across state lines, allowable medical spending accounts, removing the legal problems affecting doctors. Guess how much this cost the tax payer? Nothing, guess what this does for insurance rates? Lowers them.

I am for REFORM the government on the other hand is for CONTROL. Once they get the control, think about what you will gain and lose. Believe you me, you will lose a lot more then what you gain. Government programs simply do not work. Besides the mitary there is not one single program that the government runs that works. Not one. Dont say the post office, dont say the medicare, medicaid. Do say the VA and dont even say the takeovers. The government cant run their own personal lives and pay their taxes. What makes you think they can run something as important as your health coverage? They cant.

REFORM ONLY, no more government programs.