In the wake of the Tucson shootings, an issue amongst politicians seems to be the appropriateness of applying the word ‘killing’ to the name of the Healthcare Law repeal legislation. But whether it is called job-killing, or job-destroying, or job-crushing (ref), this political posturing is missing the most important point that came out of that tragedy – and that is putting a stop to rhetoric/language/tactics that impedes public discourse and fosters hostile behavior.
We are currently in a fragile recovery from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression with near double-digit unemployment. There are those who are suffering during this recovery, still unable to find work, unable to make car and house payments, and even afford necessities for their family. Job creation is not where we would like it to be – and in an economic recovery employment is typically a lagging indicator. There is no question that financial hardship is a source of great stress for individuals and their families. Yet, this repeal attempt, entitled ‘job-killing/job-destroying/job-crushing’, is being issued in this environment unilaterally and without debate. And the description of this legislation is being pursued even though it is known that repeal of the Healthcare Law has little if any chance of getting through the Senate and would certainly face a presidential veto.
So when this repeal attempt ultimately fails, and it will, how might that play on an individual who believes the ‘job-killing’ rhetoric and whose family is suffering during this economic downturn? Would this not be expected to result in anger and hostility? If an elected representative voted against repealing this ‘job-killing/job-destroying/job-crushing’ legislation, could not an individual hold that representative responsible for continuing the hardship that his/her family is experiencing? And depending upon the stability, ideological-leanings and level of stress, could an individual be pushed over the tipping point to engage in hostile behavior, perhaps even directed towards their elected representative?
The language in the title of this repeal legislation, considering the times, is just plain irresponsible and, without debate, yet to be proven. How the Healthcare Law affects employment should be a matter of dialog rather than a unilateral application of an inflammatory term during troubled times. And information and opinion have been published that the law will actually create jobs (ref) (ref) and support tomorrow’s entrepreneurs (ref).
We have heard the appeal for more civil discourse following the Tucson tragedy. Yet it is this very type of political language and maneuvering that creates anger and division in our society and increases the risk for hostile public behavior.