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Member since: Wed Jun 9, 2004, 09:14 PM
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Language of Opposition: Never ever say Republican Medicare plan is "vouchers"

When we talk about the Republican plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, it is very important to not use the term vouchers and instead use the term coupons.

What's the difference? Think about the connotations of the two. With a voucher, you generally exchange it for the good or service and that's that. With a coupon, you get a discount on the good or service but are still paying the bulk of the price.

Why does this matter? When someone hears Medicare voucher, they'll assume that they can use it to pick a plan from a choice of different ones. To the unknowing, it would suggest that getting a choice is a good thing and that it isn't going to cost them anything more. It ignores the catch in the Republican plan: you're on the hook for any difference between the voucher value and the plan's price.

Calling it a coupon will flip that around. With a Medicare coupon, they'll instead think of the program as a discount--cents off an expensive product. Which is going to seem better? A plan that is always there that you can count on? Or getting a couple bucks off of a plan that turn out to not be the right one for you?

Second, it validates the Republican language. If you haven't seen the article in Salon on cognitive linguist George Lakoff's the importance of language and framing, do so right now.
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