House Republicans Forcing Democrats to Use Republican Messaging

The Republicans’ well-known mechanized messaging discipline within their own party is one thing. But how about forcing the Democrats to follow the Republicans’ framing? That’s exactly what just happened in the GOP-run House of Representatives.

In the video above, Democratic Congressman Gerald Connolly of Virginia complains about how the Republicans forced him to edit a newsletter that he was sending to his constituents regarding Medicare. House members have “franking” privileges under which they can send such communications through the mail for free, but the party controlling the House has some potential sway over such communications via the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards. In this case, the Republicans forced Connolly to change the phrase “eliminate Medicare as we know it and replace it with a privatized system,” to “change Medicare and revise a government program with support from private insurance companies.” Likewise, the Republicans forced Connolly to change “voucher” to the Republican euphemism “premium support system”.

Some Republicans claim that Democrats did the same thing to them when the Democrats controlled the House. For example, in 2009, Democrats then in the House majority edited a Republican attempt to describe the Democrats’ proposed health care legislation as a “government takeover of health care” in official correspondence.

However, Connolly pointed out that, far from using hyper-partisan (or false) terminology, he was using the same language to describe the Republicans’ Medicare plan, devised by GOP Congressman Paul Ryan, that the Republicans themselves had used. What changed, according to Connolly, is that the Ryan Medicare plan has become extremely unpopular with voters, as evidenced by the victory of Kathy Hochul in the overwhelmingly Republican 26th Congressional District in upstate New York, where Hochul strongly opposed the Ryan Medicare plan and her Republican opponent supported it.  After that, the Republicans have tried to back off the language they had used to describe the Ryan plan. According to Connolly:

I’m not allowed to call it the “Ryan budget,” even though the Republicans called it the Ryan budget, because of course it’s become unpopular. I’m not allowed to refer to changing Medicare to a voucher system even though Mr. Ryan himself referred to it as a voucher system. I must now call it a premium support system. These changes, among many others, are censorship at its worst.

The term “irony” does not begin to describe the notion that in the House of Representatives, one of the bodies of government charged with upholding the Constitution and defending our freedoms, the Republicans are trying to stifle the freedom of speech of the Democrats to the point of forcing the Democrats to use Republican framing. That effort might not, in the long run, prove very successful.

One Response to House Republicans Forcing Democrats to Use Republican Messaging
  1. ของพรีเมี่ยม
    July 14, 2011 | 6:59 pm

    That effort might not, in the long run, prove very successful.

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