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FALLACY OF EVERYTHING

Grammar is the first victim of the “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017”

By Amy X. Wang

Really, this was to be expected. Republicans in the House of Representatives this week unveiled a promised bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the signature healthcare plan of Barack Obama’s administration, which is a key policy aim of US president Donald Trump. H.R. 1275 eliminates the ACA’s mandates and proposes alternative routes for healthcare coverage.

It also comes with this Trumpian jewel of a short title:

Four things make the “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017″—here’s the text on Congress’s website for those who are understandably skeptical of its truthiness in this era of fake news and alternative facts—a particularly unfortunate title for the bill.

  1. Let’s start with plain old inaccuracy. The bill affects American healthcare alone. Calling it the “world’s” anything is equal parts baffling and misleading.
  2. The US’s notoriously mangled health system is in fact ranked by the World Health Organization as 31st in the world, below those of countries like Colombia, Israel, Costa Rica, and Canada. It is a step above Slovenia’s.
  3. By taking on “of 2017” at the end, the title sabotages its own attempt at grandeur—essentially declaring itself the “greatest healthcare plan ever proposed in the world, in the last two months” or, slightly more ambitiously, “the next nine months.”
  4. It was originally proposed in 2016, and no-one managed to come up with a better title in the time since.

But again, the bombastic, somewhat nonsensical title shouldn’t be surprising. A woefully clumsy grasp of the English language has infected Trump’s administration at large (see: Trump’s views on quotation marks, and on spelling.) Vice president Mike Pence also seems to have recently fallen prey:

“Obamacare” as a nickname for the ACA may have had its critics, but at the very least, its champions didn’t demonstrate to the world a tortured misunderstanding of grammar.