POLITICS
06/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Luntz Health Care Talking Points Become GOP Message

Mastermind of conservative talking points Frank Luntz has authored a 26-page report advising Republicans on how best to frame the debate over health care reform, the Politico reported last week. Luntz advised that Republicans must acknowledge there's a "crisis" and warn against a "Washington takeover" that could lead to bureaucrats "making people stand in line and denying treatment like they do in other countries with national healthcare."

Conservatives are getting the memo.

Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer on Thursday warned: "We will show you three things guaranteed to happen to every American's health care if Washington takes over the system."

In the ensuing segment, Fox medical contributor Marc Siegel was asked if wait times would increase to Canada-style lengths under the administration's plan.

"We are going to be seeing those waits," Siegel said. "We like freedom here. We're not going to be able to get our our liver transplants when we are 60 years old. We're not going to be able to get our pacemakers when we're 90 years old. We're not going to be able to have dialysis...If it is a government plan -- a public option, it's going to mean rationed care. The government is not going to approve all of that because they are going to say it's too expensive."

On Wednesday, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other House Republican leaders penned a letter to Obama that, while cordial, nevertheless used several of Luntz's key themes, as Media Matters noted.

"We believe it is possible, and necessary, to achieve these objectives through common sense reforms without rationing care, eliminating employer-sponsored health benefits for working families, raising taxes, or empowering government bureaucrats at the expense of patients and doctors," the letter said.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) definitely got the memo as well. "There's a health care crisis... when you don't have coverage, that's a crisis for you and your family," Cantor said on BIll Bennett's radio show Wednesday, as ThinkProgress noted. "The answer is not to lay it on Washington, to pump up Washington's role...We all need to be standing up and saying no to a government takeover of our system."

Alarmed Congressional Democrats met with White House adviser David Axelrod Wednesday specifically to counter the Luntz talking points. "Axelrod came to reassure us that they do have a strategy," Sen Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) told the New York Times.

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