Littwin: The dreadfully consistent anti-Obamacare industry
Fair and Unbalanced
It has been awhile, 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 Sen. 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. Instead, she told us 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.
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 or her family. These are not people who are going to persuade you to vote for Rep. Cory Gardner and against Udall.
So let’s go to 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 health care,” 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 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 — 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 quoted 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. McKim 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 it 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. House 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 McKim.
Mike Littwin runs Sundays in The Aspen Times. A former columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, he currently writes for ColoradoIndependent.com.