Littwin: The dreadfully consistent anti-Obamacare industry

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]T has been a while, but the good times are officially back. There’s another anti-Obamacare ad on a TV screen near you, this time featuring an area woman with a sad, 30-second tale of Obamacare woe. The Crossroads GPS ad ends with a plea from “Richelle” to Mark Udall to “repeal” the law.

But, of course, once the sad tale gets checked out, it is mostly discredited. KDVR’s Eli Stokols did the checking. The woman telling the story, Richelle McKim, supplies much of the discrediting.

I thought they’d given up on this brand of ad. The last anti-Obamacare ad I remember in Colorado used an actress who had no tale of woe. She told us, instead, that health care was about “people,” and that Obamacare apparently wasn’t. And, of course, there’s the classic creepy Uncle Sam series of ads, which, if there’s any justice, should play in reruns forever.

But personal stories from real people?

They tried that, and one after the other, the testimonials proved to be at least semi-bogus. You remember. The stories were inconsistent. The numbers didn’t add up. The details were murky. Some critical piece of evidence was left out. The fact-checker business was booming.

[pullquote]Political ads tend to at least bend the truth. But these Obamacare ads were produced by contortionists.[/pullquote]

Many political ads — probably most — tend to at least bend the truth. But these Obamacare ads were produced by contortionists.

Obviously, there are some people, somewhere, who ended up getting a bad deal because of Obamacare. After all, it’s a big country. Out of 300 million people, you’re bound to find a few weepers.

So why do all the sob stories turn out to be so, well, funny?

The problem is that the people who did get a bad deal are generally not exactly your sympathetic types. They’re young males who don’t want to buy health insurance because why would they? And then there’s your basic rich guy who doesn’t want to cough up a little extra to help ensure that everyone gets a shot at protecting his/her family. These are not people who are going to persuade you to vote for Cory Gardner and against Mark Udall.

So let’s go to Richelle McKim of Castle Rock. Her story is that her husband started his own business and that government is so often in the way.

But the family soldiered on, as McKim explains.

“We knew we needed to find healthcare,” McKim said. “Because we were a single income family, we couldn’t afford our plan.”

Then, on the screen, the critical text appears: “Richelle had to go back to work.”

Then we segue into Obamacare, as if Obamacare were the cause of Richelle having to leave the home. But Stokols went to McKim’s LinkedIn profile. Turns out she had been working since July of 2008, which, if you’ll remember, was before Obamacare and, for that matter, before the Obama presidency.

First she worked for her husband’s company from her house, but then in 2010, she needed to find different work. You’ll never guess where she would end up working, so I’ll just tell you — for two oil and gas companies, Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy. These companies just happen to be major contributors to — coincidence alert — Cory Gardner’s Senate campaign.

Now we’ll get to the punch line. Stokols called McKim to ask about the ad, and she told him that she went back to work because she needed the money. It also turned out her husband’s high blood pressure had made insuring him too expensive without employer-subsidized insurance.

“It wasn’t the Affordable Care Act,” Stokols quotes her as saying. “It was just a financial burden, having a single income for so long.”

So, the ad wasn’t really about Obamacare at all. So, why would they say it was?

Most people don’t like Obamacare. Every poll says so. It’s also true that most polls say a majority want to either keep Obamacare or fix it, but that isn’t the point. Hitting Obamacare works politically, although there is some question as to how effective it remains.

But for it to be effective, there has to be bad news attached. Richelle has bad news. Obamacare is bad for middle class entrepreneurs.

There’s a long list of bad news that has been associated with Obamacare, even if you don’t hear about all of them anymore.

There would be death panels. Remember death panels?

Medicare would be gutted. Remember Medicare?

Millions of policies were canceled for not meeting minimum Obamacare standards. And then it turned out that most people whose policies were canceled were transferred to new policies — sometimes even better policies.

People, we were told, wouldn’t sign up, particularly after the botched rollout. Except that they did, in numbers that exceeded expectations. Remember numbers?

More people would lose insurance than would gain insurance — for a net Obamacare loss. Speaker John Boehner even said that. One problem. It wasn’t even remotely true. According to a Gallup survey of 45,000 adults, the country’s uninsured rate fell from an average of 17.1 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in June of this year. Maybe Boehner should be in an anti-Obamacare ad.

There’s more. But the actual bad news concerning Obamacare has come mostly from judges. Unfortunately for the anti-Obamacare Super PACs, judges are far more likely to take testimony than to give testimonials. So, meanwhile, there’s always Richelle.

[ Image by 7-how-7. ]


  1. I read about this Karl Rove produced ad, and fortunately haven’t seen it. I HATE seeing things that I KNOW are LIES from the get go. The fact that it’s ROVE behind it should tell ANYONE right away that its a lie.

    why this woman allowed herself to be used like this is beyond me. They must have paid her a LOT to get on the air and lie like a rug. What a shame that she didn’t have the INTEGRITY to tell them where to go. Among those who care to learn the truth, she will forever be known as a LIAR. And she deserves it.

    I think it’s time that we demand a truth in advertising law for political ads. I’m SO sick of nothing but lying when every other November rolls around. It’s NOT good for our discourse, it’s NOT good for the nation, it doesn’t give us good or even decent politicians, and all it does is contribute to our national sense of not going anywhere. We need some HONESTY from those who want to lead us, not this constant LYING.

  2. Thanks for telling it like it is, Mike! I am so tired of hearing complaints about Obamacare that are not based on facts from TV ads and people who are misinformed. You said that Richelle said that the family needed employer-sponsored health insurance due to her husband’s high blood pressure (presumably, to bring the cost down). However, before Obamacare, he would not even been able to obtain ANY health insurance independently! Obamacare prevents insurance companies from denying insurance to individuals based on previous health history!!!

  3. Yeh, no complaints here, lost my coverage and had to replace it with a Bronze Plan costing me 101% more. At least I have the privilege of subsidizing the insurance of people who weren’t responsible enough to have their own.

  4. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. There is nothing the republicans can do to stop it. They are pandering to a diminishing base with their “dreadfully consistent anti Obama” agenda.

    Rand Corp has been running an opinion study on health care reform ongoing since September 2013. They have surveyed the same group of people (5500) over time to get an more accurate measure of change in public opinion concerning the ACA. Here’s the link if you want to check it out.

    Here’s what Rand found in their survey. November 22, 2013 55.1% of those surveyed disapproved of healthcare reform, 31.6% approved. March 8 2014. 52.9 % disapproved, 33.2 approved. As of May 22 2014 48.4% still dislike the ACA while 41.4% are now in favor. The gap is closing on the republican opposition and their fruitless efforts to stop the ACA as more people realize the benefits of health care reform.

  5. Mr. Littwin’s sense of outrage is highly selective.

    While expressing indignation over an anti-Obamacare ad he suggests was “produced by a contortionist” he remains indignation-free about the lie used to sell the Obamacare scheme: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,”

    That promise earned President Obama not only PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year for 2013 but it also topped the Washington Post’s Pinocchio list as the Biggest Lie of 2013. And while not as prestigious as his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize at least these awards were earned.

    I assume those who value veracity above all would reject Obamacare because of its rather dubious foundation.

    While admitting that “Most people don’t like Obamacare. Every poll says so.” and “Hitting Obamacare works politically……” Mr. Littwin believes “…..there is some question as to how effective (hitting Obamacare) remains.” The only questions concerning the efficacy of opposing Obamacare exist solely in Mr. Littwin’s mind.

    Mr. Littwin is so desperate to put lipstick on a pig he categorizes as good news the number of Americans who want to change Obamacare.

    He also believes “(For these ads) to be effective, there has to be bad news attached.” Well, the bad news about Obamacare can be found in its eponymous title.

    President Obama is well beyond being politically toxic, he is politically radioactive. So radioactive Senator Udall decided not to attend his own fundraiser rather than be seen with him. And this in a state Obama won less than two years ago.

    You can’t make that stuff up!

    Veterans Day – November 11, 2014

  6. Speaking of “dubious foundations”, Mr Lopez makes a lot of “stuff up”.

    No matter. Like the obsessive wing nut whining over “Benghazi and the IRS witch hunt”, Mr Lopez persists in beating a dead horse over and over and over and…..

    “Putting lipstick on a pig” exists solely in Mr Lopez’s dull mind.

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