Internal RNC Memo: "Engage In Every Activity" To Slow Down Health Care Reform

08/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

A private memo distributed by the Republican National Committee calls for like-minded advocates to help defeat President Barack Obama's health care proposals by delaying its consideration.

The memo, which was obtained by the Huffington Post from a Democratic source, provides the clearest illustration to date of the political playbook being used to stop Democratic attempts at a health care overhaul. Much of the material mirrors the speeches and presentations made by conservatives both inside and out of elected office to date. Obama's plan for health care is deemed an "experiment" and a "risk" that could bankrupt the country and dangerously change the doctor-patient relationship.

In particular, the 12-page memo makes the case that it is a Republican priority to slow down the consideration of health care reform before it can become codified.

"The Republican National Committee will engage in every activity we can to slow down this mad rush while promoting sensible alternatives that address health care costs and preserve quality," the memo affirmatively declares.

In an effort to buttress its claims, the RNC highlights internal polling it conducted from June 15 to 17, in which 56 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who was a "check and balance" on the president's agenda. Thirty-five percent said they preferred a candidate who would help Obama.

"Every Republican should stand up for health care reform that controls cost, preserves quality and provides the health care that Americans deserve," the memo reads. "This means standing up against President Obama's health care plan. The Obama administration is acting with extreme haste, hoping to push through their health care experiment as fast as they can. Make no mistake -- their timeline is based on what works for them politically, not on what will result in the best health care policy for Americans. The reckless speed with which they are attempting to jam through this experiment is a grave threat to America's health care, and America's health."

In an effort to slow down reform, the RNC advises its advocates to use a whole host of political tools, from organizing town halls, to writing letters to the editor, to booking surrogates on radio and television, to engaging in "Street Theater" protests outside Democratic events. And in a bit of irony, the memo's authors encourage readers to frame the president as the one acting out of political motivations.

"Despite the president's increasingly skeptical reviews, it should also be noted that the Obama administration is fantastic at the PR game," the memo reads. "In some cases, they are even a little too good at it, selling things that are demonstrably untrue."

"The president's PR team uses rhetoric to mask reality, and the White House spin machine is in overdrive trying to convince Americans as well as our nation's health care professionals that their plan is the cure for what ails us," it argues at another point. "Republicans will not allow the Democrats' rhetoric to define this debate."

As for a Republican alternative to the president's agenda, the RNC memo doesn't offer much in the way of details, save to make the argument that the status quo isn't as bad as it is being painted.

"The Republican Party knows we have the best health care system in the world," the memo declares. "The Republican Party also knows it is a system in need of reform because it is costing our families and our businesses too much."

In regard to specific talking points, the RNC Memo has nine of them:

* President Obama and Democrats are conducting a grand experiment with our economy, our country, and now our health care.

* President Obama's massive spending experiments have created more debt than at any other time in our nation's history.

* The President experimented with a $780 billion dollar budget-busting stimulus plan and unemployment is still rising. The President experimented with banks and auto companies, and now we're on the hook for tens of billions of dollars with no exit plan.

* Now the President is proposing more debt and more risk through a trillion dollar experiment with our health care.

* Democrats are proposing a government controlled health insurance system, which will control care, treatments, medicines and even what doctors a patient may see.

* This health care experiment will have consequences for generations, but President Obama and Democrats want to ram this legislation through Congress in two months.

* President Obama's health care experiment is too much, too fast, too soon. Our country cannot afford to fix health care through a rushed experiment.

* Americans want health care reform that addresses, not increases, cost or debt.

* Government takeover is the wrong way to go -- health care decisions should remain between the doctor and the patient.

Officials with the RNC did not immediately return a request for clarification or comment on the memo's subject matter. While documents like these commonly are passed around behind the scenes by like-minded partisans on both sides of the aisle they usually don't make their way into the public. At the very least, it provides an insight into how the Republican Party believes it can gain the upper hand, politically, in the current health care reform debate.

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