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Who First Used Obamacare?

June 13, 2013

The New York Times (June 13, 2013) profile of Anthony Weiner’s congressional career contains this statement: “Mr. Weiner gave in, and went on to fight for Obamacare — ‘a term, by the way, that I coined,’ he said.” We are not the first to write about the origin of Obamacare. A Google search turns up lots of references including another New York Times article with a timeline of the use of the word. They quote a lobbyist’s use in a health care publication in 2007 and Mitt Romney using it in campaign speech in 2008. The first congressional use they cite is a July 9, 2009 insertion in the Congressional Record from a Wall Street Journal editorial.

Here at the C-SPAN Video Library we like spoken references over insertions because we record what congress members say every day. If they don’t say, there is no video record. Interestingly, the first spoken references begin later that month on July 21, 2009 when Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), a medical doctor, says “We have a proposal that I call ObamaCare that’s being debated here in the Halls of Congress.” It began to be used everyday on the House floor by Republicans in the following days.

Our first Romney reference is February 18, 2010 when he appeared with Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). It was shortly after that President Obama used the term in the healthcare summit on February 25, 2010.

Democrats did not start using the term until much later since it was being used pejoratively by Republicans. Interestingly on Washington Journal, the host reads an article from Donald Lambro of the Washington Times calling the not yet enacted plan Obamacare, but the guest Rep. Weiner does not use the term in his answer or anytime in the program. The first congressional floor reference to Obamacare by Rep. Weiner is on May 24, 2011 when he said when he said, “We didn’t go this way in the Obamacare plan, which I proudly call that.”

Reporters and journalist can use the C-SPAN Video Library for fact checking of the public record. It contains so many public events, including all congressional sessions, that it provides an invaluable research resource.

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