Federal Eye: Obama’s Use of the Word ‘Bureaucrat’

As the health care reform debate continues, some close observers have noticed President Obama’s increased use of the word “bureaucrat” when assuring audiences that the government will not intervene in future health care decisions.

In Sunday’s New York Times, Obama stated, “If you have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need.”

He used similar language on Saturday in Colorado: “If you like your doctor, you keep seeing your doctor. I don’t want government bureaucrats meddling in your health care.”

Ditto on Friday in Montana: “If you like your doctor, you can keep seeing your doctor. This is important. I don’t want government bureaucrats meddling in your health care, but I also don’t want insurance company bureaucrats meddling in your health care either.”

Use of “the b-word” is frowned upon by federal workers unions and other longtime members of the federal bur… (gulp), uh, federal government community.

His use of the word is even more curious considering Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry’s recent comments that “We have a President in Barack Obama who gets it; who understands the value of service and isn’t in the practice of throwing around ‘bureaucrat’ as a slur towards our workers.”

Queried about Obama’s use of the term, the White House declined to comment.

Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, said Obama’s use of the word is “derogatory,” because it’s meant to conjure up negative feelings. He cited a 2004 study published by his group, which found that:

…the most common voter reaction to federal government workers is summarized in the word “bureaucrats.” The term “federal government workers” receives a favorable response from 71 percent of those surveyed, but the term “federal government bureaucrats” receives only 20 percent — a drop of 51 percent with one word.

“Honestly, the president of the United States should not be using [bureaucrat],” Stier said. “He’s done very important work in making government cool again. He should not be referring to the federal workforce as bureaucrats.”

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Paul Thomas

Oh, please. Why is everyone stressing over such trivia? If you work for government (or any large organisation) then you are a bureaucrat. Get used to it. I work for government – I’m a bureaucrat. Big deal. It’s a word for God’s sake and it is only a slur if you make it into one. The problem is not with the word it’s with you. Just grow up, get a grip and stop whining about crap.