President Obama is ramping up his political spin machine to prevent a backlash against Obamacare from turning into a Democratic debacle at the polls next year, writes Karl Rove in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal
“There's been a recent flurry of activities attempting to boost the Affordable Care Act. In mid-June, for example, President Obama's ‘Organizing for Action’ group reportedly spent seven figures on TV ads (in California, Florida and Texas) claiming, ‘Americans are already seeing the benefits’ of healthcare reform,” Rove writes.
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Rove notes that in June, the administration touted how hundreds of thousands of community organizers will sign up seven million uninsured Americans for health coverage, once federal subsidies become available Oct. 1.
“Then on July 2, the administration dropped a bombshell, delaying the employer mandate for a year,” writes Rove of the move to push back the start of penalties for employers who don’t provide health insurance from 2014 to 2015.
“Even Democrats were taken aback,” Rove writes of the postponement.
“Political considerations have frequently dictated the administration's actions on Obamacare,” explains Rove, a former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush and a founder of American Crossroads.
“For example, a week after Democrats were shellacked in the 2010 midterm elections, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius boosted discretionary payments to insurance companies by $8.3 billion over three years to mitigate the impact of cuts in the popular Medicare Advantage program until after the 2012 election,” he says.
Despite White House assurances that Obamacare would grow more popular with time, Rove ticks off several polls that show public sentiment increasingly against the healthcare reform.
“A June 2 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 37 percent thought the healthcare plan was a good idea while 49 percent thought it a bad idea. On May 10, 2010, about two months after Obamacare passed, it was 38 percent good idea, 44 percent bad,” he points out.
And Americans have good reason to be reluctant about Obamacare, he asserted, pointing to an analysis published in Contingencies, the American Academy of Actuaries magazine, that found Americans earning as little as $25,000 can expect to pay higher premiums under Obamacare, even with the law's subsidies.
“The administration thinks it can spin its way out of these problems,” according to Rove.
Rove charges that an ad blitz being planned by the Department of Health and Human Services in 21 media markets during the fourth quarter of this year — urging people to sign up for health coverage under Obamacare — appears to be “suspiciously political.”
Five of the markets, he notes, are in Texas, where Obama campaign operatives are pushing an effort called “Turn Texas Blue.”
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Charlotte and New Orleans are also on the list for media buys, both states where Democratic senators are vulnerable because they supported Obamacare.
“Nevertheless ads are less important than the quality of the product they tout — and Obamacare is a lemon. There's little the president can do to spin his way out of that,” Rove adds.
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