Monday, January 17, 2011


OK, I think it's just silly to try to suggest that there's anything wrong with using the phrase "job-killing," as Greg Sargent seems to do here. As various people pointed out last week, military and/or violent metaphorical language is deeply embedded in the way we talk, in politics and elsewhere, and it seems to me that there's neither anything that could be done about it or any real harm in it.  In my opinion? Nothing wrong with using that phrase.

Worse, though not the worst, is calling a bill "job-killing" because your polling and focus groups tell you that your targeted audiences love hearing about jobs, even if what you're working on doesn't happen to be about jobs. Yeah, it's possible that Republicans believe that ACA will cost jobs, but presumably that's not what they mainly dislike about it (or at least, it wasn't last year during the debate). This goes to Conor Friedersdorf's point that substance, and not tone, is important in political rhetoric; what we want to avoid is using exaggerated rhetoric that we ourselves don't believe, just because it will stand out from the crowd or fire up our supporters (the link should be correct, but alas the site has been down this weekend).

But the worst thing about calling a bill "The Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act" is that it's an insult to everyone's intelligence to employ transparently foolish propaganda like that.  I mean, I recently gave "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" a four on the propaganda scale, with "ACA" getting a 2. "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act" has got to be a 9, and then it still needs to be penalized for aesthetic reasons on top of that.  C'mon -- why not just go whole hog and call it the "Barack Obama Has Destroyed America and We're Going To Save It Act"?

Free suggestion to Republicans: "Restoring American Health Care Act" would have got the job done, and I'd probably go with a 4 on the propaganda scale. And it would be a bit easier for intelligent people to take you seriously.


  1. Jon--what would get a 10

    The "Everyone Who Votes Against This Bill is Voldemort Act"?

  2. I agree. But hell, if we're already examining our rhetoric, can we try to curtail the childish, the petty, the propaganda, and the so-hamfistedly-focus-grouped-that-you-can-barely-keep-a-straight-face-as-you-say-it? I'm half-convinced that people start talking about "Second Amendment Solutions" because they hear that shit too much.

  3. I can't speak for him but I didn't read it as Greg S. insinuating what you imply. I read it more as a gesture on the GOP's part in the wake of calls for more civility (irrespective of whether or not the use of "-killing" is actually uncivil). And that the "...or not" in the Plumline post is because the GOP spokesperson clarifies it was NOT a gesture.

    The GOP's overuse of "job-killing" is a transparent attempt to confuse voters into thinking their agenda of impeding any Obama achievements or helping special interests who might donate to their campaigns is in the public interest. It should be mocked incessantly.

    Do I think doing so would be consistent with the magnanimous message of Obama's powerful Tuscon speech? Yes. Obama referred to civil and honest discourse. Dishonest messaging should be exposed. It doesn't mean you wish the Republicans any ill-will. I hope their children still love them. And forgive them for methodically trying to deceive the public by talking about Michelle Obama's new job-killing haircut or whatever.

  4. Did you just say there's nothing wrong with using that phrase, then list two things wrong with using that phrase?

  5. Andrew,

    Nothing wrong with the phrase per se. The complaint is about the title of the bill.


    You may be correct about Greg S. And I have no problem with anyone mocking "job-killing" at all -- I agree that it's mindless, just not that it's particularly violent.

  6. It just hit me how "job-killing" can be almost not entirely a joke: the health care law will indeed reduce job vacancy, by reducing the national mortality rate and thus the job turnover rate.

    Really, it's the same logic as the "Job-Creating Go Get The Army Entangled In An Endless Land War Act" of 2002.


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