Newsweek Rolls Eyes at 'ObamaCare' Label But Loved Dismissive 'Reaganomics' Label

Newsweek's Liz White took to her magazine's The Gaggle blog today to decry how conservatives critical of the Democratic health care bill have slapped it with "the ominous-sounding term ‘Obamacare.'"

You see, most mainstream media sources only use the term when quoting opponents of the bill or when "carefully placed in quotations or alongside an explanation that Obamacare is how opposition refers to the bill."

This prompted me to investigate how Newsweek dealt with the term "Reaganomics" during the Gipper's early presidency compared to how Newsweek's print pages have used the term "ObamaCare" thus far. The results are telling.

A Nexis search yielded only one reference to ObamaCare from January 20, 2009 through March 25, 2010: a Michael Hirsh article that said that in 1994, "as now, the Republicans were trying to exploit a backlash against big government. It was Hillarycare in '94; now it's Obamacare."

By contrast, a Nexis search for "Reaganomics" from January 20, 1981 through March 25, 1982 yielded 65 hits, many of which had the term Reaganomics used by a Newsweek staffer himself and in a manner to cast the term in a negative light.

I've included some examples below, including some by journalists who are still working in the media today and actively cheering on ObamaCare:

• From "Wringing Out Inflation," a March 22, 1982 story Susan Dentzer and Erik Ipsen in New York with Christopher Ma in Washington:

The Reagan Administration is still hoping that reduction in inflation will help lower interest rates, inspiring confidence in businessmen and sparking new rallies in the skittish financial markets.... Some short-term relief may be in the offing, but until investors gain some faith in Reaganomics, a genuine recovery seems far away.

• From "The Storm Over the Fogg," a March 15, 1982 story by John Ashbery and Phyllis Malamud in Boston and Maggie Malone in New York about financing troubles in the expansion of the Fogg Museum at Harvard:

Trouble began last September when the lowest construction bid came in at $7.5 million. "We managed to raise that money," Slive says. However, with Reaganomics promising less support for higher education and aid to students, Harvard's fiscal overseers began to get jittery about the cost of maintaining the new museum.

• From "Okay, Congress, You Try," a March 8, 1982 article by Tom Morganthau, Howard Fineman, Gloria Borger, Henry Hubbard, Thomas M. DeFrank, Eleanor Clift, and Rich Thomas, which described congressional Republicans:

Ronald Reagan met with Republican Congressional leaders last week and got some unwelcome news on his budget....Dread of the deficits, high interest rates and building talk of depression was driving even Reagan's staunchest Republican allies in Congress close to the bail-out point.

[...]

As they indicated to the President last week, Congressional Republicans have all but lost faith in Reaganomics. Their anguished conclusion is that Reagan's proposed deficits-$91.5 billion in 1983, with more to follow--would almost certainly keep interest rates high, and that the high cost of business borrowing would in turn choke off any economic recovery that might arrive before the November elections.

• From "A Coalition in Shambles," a February 22, 1982 article by Mark Starr, Gloria Borger and Howard Fineman:

While the President took his economic program on the road last week, members of his first-year Congressional coalition faced an increasingly alarming political prospect: taking Reaganomics home for the Lincoln-Washington holiday recess. For those politically disparate senators and representatives whose interests merged long enough to pass Reagan's initial budget and tax program last year, the only common ground now seems to be disappointment with the President's new budget and its whopping $91.5 billion projected deficit. "The coalition from last year is in a shambles," says one top aide to the Senate's Republican leadership. "You couldn't get the 'boll weevils' and the 'gypsy moths'--and whoever else was flying around last year--together on anything right now."

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters