To borrow a phrase from Andy Rooney, “You know what I hate?

I hate when defenders of ObamaCare accuse Republicans of trying to avoid talking about the legislation.

This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe,’s Joe Conason joined the hosts to discuss the House Democrat’s newest ploy to pass health care reform – the “Slaughter Solution,” which is a procedural maneuver that would “deem” the Senate health care bill to pass without an actual vote.  A little unsteady on the “history” of this approach, Conason quickly pivoted the conversation:

“…at every stage of this debate Republicans want to talk about anything except the actual substance of this bill. They want to talk about death panels; they make up all sorts of stuff that’s not true about this legislation and now they want to talk about how they’re going to get this passed…Why? Why is that the only thing they want to talk about?”

Paul Waldman over at The American Prospect seems to agree. He writes today:

Without question, the GOP won the language battle over health care. With a few vivid terms, like “government takeover” and “death panels,” Republicans captured the public’s imagination in an otherwise dull policy debate. . .Words can be powerful, and symbols matter. But so long as we’re talking about how we’re talking, we’re no longer talking about what we’re doing.

Well, I certainly agree that words matter.  But I strongly disagree that Republicans are just using words and props to turn public opinion away from health care reform. 

First of all, in the (approximate) words of Sen. John Kyl, Republicans have a responsibility to object to a terrible piece of legislation. 

And second, Republicans and their conservative friends have not simply been obstructionists, as so many on the left like to claim. Conservatives have raised countless issues with the legislation (see here, here, and here for some examples). And they’ve offered up many potential reform options that would truly drive down costs and improve care.

It’s funny, in all the talk about Republicans obstructing this bill, I didn’t hear Conason or Waldman mention expanding health savings accounts and high-deductible insurance plans. I didn’t hear anything about extending the same tax privileges to individuals for purchasing health insurance as the government gives businesses. I never heard a thing from them about allowing people to shop for health insurance over state lines. And they were silent about medical malpractice reform.

Interesting, huh? I guess they were all just too busy talking about House procedure to actually talk about what’s not in the bill.