Obamacare opponents have already run more than 30,000 television ads attacking the health law and Democratic candidates who support it, according to the media tracking group CMAG — a staggering 12-fold increase from four years ago. Many of the ads are being run in states with high uninsurance rates where hundreds of thousands of poor people could benefit from the Affordable Care Act, including Arkansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
Nearly half of all ads that have been run about the health law in House and Senate races through March 9 are critical of the ACA. And in a reflection of the post-Citizens United political landscape, spending by outside groups without any official connection to a particular organization or party accounts for almost three-fourths of all the commercials, compared to just 13 percent in 2010.
“We knew there would be heightened public awareness around the implementation of the law, and we thought it was important to go up early with a heavy effort,” said Tim Phillips, president of the Koch brother-funded group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), in an interview with Bloomberg.
AFP has run the most anti-Obamacare ads of any political group by a large margin, targeting vulnerable Democrats who are up for re-election, such as Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). The organization’s spots play up misleading “horror stories” related to the health law, such as Americans who have had their insurance policies cancelled or seen their premiums spike. But the ads’ content tends to range from exaggeration to outright misinformation — and AFP has even been caught hiring paid actors to play the roles of “real” local residents.
The Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity has now released its factual documentation for its misleading ad featuring Julie Boonstra, a Michigan woman stricken with Leukemia who suggests Obamacare forced her to take on a new plan that is now “unaffordable.” The ad has been widely pilloried ever since Glenn Kessler discovered that her premiums had come down, likely making her overall costs a wash or even cheaper. Gary Peters, the Dem candidate for Senate in Michigan, had written to TV stations insisting on documentation.
The documentation provided by AFP, which was passed along from TV stations by the Peters campaign, doesn’t actually back up the ad’s key claim. But it tells us something interesting about how the AFP campaign — and by extension, the broader GOP strategy against Obamacare — really work.
To buttress the ad’s charge that Boonstra’s “out of pocket charges are so high, it’s unaffordable,” AFP cites a single Politico article reporting that “consumers may have to dig a little deeper into their wallets to pay for health care in the Obamacare insurance exchanges,” because the law could mean additional out of pocket expenses. Needless to say, that doesn’t shed light on Boonstra’s individual situation.
And on that front, AFP’s documentation offers this (emphasis mine):
[I]t has been widely reported that consumers are facing higher out-of-pocket costs due to the Affordable Care Act. Julie Boonstra is one individual whose old insurance plan was deemed illegal under Obamacare, forcing her to find other coverage options. She has made a reasonable judgment that the unexpected, unpredictable out-of-pocket costs associated with her new health care plan are unaffordable.
Note the sleight of hand here: AFP now claims the ad says her out of pocket costs are unaffordable, and defends that assertion. But the original ad was clearly designed to leave the impression that her overall plan is now unaffordable, thanks to Obamacare. AFP’s documentation doesn’t try to defend that claim. Indeed, the documentation doesn’t even engage on the fact that her premiums fell, making overall costs a wash. Instead, AFP is now implicitly abandoning the core premise of its own ad.
This is in keeping with the new ads AFP is now running in New Hampshire, which no longer make a claim about the overall impact of the law on its victims, carefully skirting the problem that got AFP pilloried over the Boonstra ad.
Wingnuts are spamming this story all over Teh Twitters, accusing Gary Peters (who is the Congressional rep for my district) of waging HURR HURR!!!! THIS IS TEH REALS WAR ON TEH WIMMENZ!!!!!11!!!
An emotional anti-ACA ad from a cancer patient is the newest example of how low Americans for Prosperity will sink when it comes to attacking the Affordable Care Act.
At worst, under the ACA, this woman will pay $2. more per year in out of pocket cost. Her monthly premiums have been cut in half, she gets to keep her doctors…so what is the real issue here?
At best, if she goes into remission (which I sincerely hope she does) , she will save a lot of money in the out years and she can no longer be cancelled at the Insurer’s whim.
I am afraid we will see more and more of these outright deceptive ads in 2014. Democrats must be vigilant in exposing this. They must be called out every time until it is no longer politically advantageous for them to continue with their lies.
First of all, many viewers might think Boonstra lost her doctor, as she mentions her “wonderful doctor” and then says her plan was canceled. But AFP confirms that she was able to find a plan, via Blue Cross Blue Shield, that had her doctor in its network.
Local news reports recount that Boonstra, like many Americans, initially had trouble getting a plan because of the botched launch of healthcare.gov. No doubt that was a difficult experience. She then was invited by her local member of Congress to attend the State of the Union address and participated in a Republican National Committee news conference that highlighted problems with Obamacare’s stumbling launch.
At that news conference, Boonstra said, “I’m paying a higher cost now as far as out of pocket costs and the coverage is just not the same.” But in the new ad she says “the out-of-pocket costs are so high, it’s unaffordable.”
The claim that the costs are now “unaffordable” appeared odd because, under Obamacare, there is an out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350 for an individual plan, after which the insurance plan pays 100 percent of covered benefits. The Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Michigan that appear to match Boonstra’s plan, as described in local news reports, all have that limit.
Meanwhile, Boonstra told the Detroit News that her monthly premiums were cut in half, from $1,100 a month to $571. That’s a savings of $529 a month. Over the course of a year, the premium savings amounts to $6,348—just two dollars shy of the out-of-pocket maximum.
We were unable to reach Boonstra, but on the fact of it, the premium savings appear to match whatever out-of-pocket costs she now faces.
As recently as 2003, the president of the Greater Fort Bend County Tea Party had a very different title: director of propaganda for the American Fascist Party.
James Ives, a prominent Tea Party activist who has hosted statewide rallies and political debates and has been a regular contributor on conservative radio, was the AFP’s fourth in command, commenting about the party’s principles on a fascist message board. An image of Ives in what appears to be a black uniform with yellow shoulder patches can be seen in a 2006 promotional video for the party.
Ives tells a more nuanced story; the Richmond, Texas, resident says he stumbled across the fascist party — which supports extreme right-wing authoritarian regimes — online in the early 2000s as an “amateur political science student and frustrated novelist” and was merely curious.
“From my point of view, it was all pro-Constitution, pro-America,” Ives said of the group, which appears to be defunct.
“I never did anything,” he added. “There really weren’t enough people involved to be a gathering, let alone a rally. It was basically a scattering of people across the continent just complaining.”
He said he believed he’d uncovered an underground cabal — and decided to stick around to do research for a “political novel of intrigue.”
“I thought, ‘I can blow the lid off of this. … I can go inside and find out what’s going on,’” Ives said.
Ives never wrote a novel. He did write a range of posts on the party’s Yahoo message board, communicating with his fellow “blackshirts” and the party’s chief organizer, a man who identified himself as the “Glorious Leader.”
In one post, he channeled Benito Mussolini, the World War II-era Italian dictator and founder of that country’s National Fascist Party, saying building up the fascist movement in America was “our spirit, our calling.”
“It will be our greatest challenge, and our sweetest victory, to finally surpass this dark menace, this numbing threat from the shadows, and replace it with the pure sunbeam that is our Fascist Faith, our Fascist Truth,” he wrote.
In another post, he blasts a fellow commenter’s racist remarks, saying such members of the party make “the return of Fascist Faith to the pantheon of accepted beliefs that much more difficult.”
“Tell me what I can do in Texas for you and I will try my utmost to comply,” Ives added, signing off, “your honor-bound comrade.”
A funding bill that would provide more than $60 billion in aid for the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort is currently being debated in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The primary beneficiaries of the aid would be Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, three states that took the brunt of Sandy’s wrath and have seen damage estimates continue to rise well above President Barack Obama’s funding request.
The bill has been divisive. In both the Senate and Congress, legislators are questioning the appropriations, the allocation of the funds, the total, and the need to approve the aid all at once. Despite their differences, the majority of the country’s elected leaders in Washington D.C. agree that, in some form, the victims of Sandy are in need of federal financial aid.
Steve Lonegan, a former Bogota mayor, disagrees.
New Jersey’s Americans for Prosperity State Director called on legislators to reject the bill, saying that aid would be a burden on the country’s taxpayers and would be misspent at all levels of government by officials glomming for every last nickel.
The bill, he said, would lead to a spending free-for-all and is merely an attempt to secure funding for wasteful endeavors by appealing to emotion.
‘Tragic things happen every day to people – worse things than having your house flood – and we don’t hand them a check,’ he said. ‘Having your shore house flood doesn’t rank.
‘This is not a federal government responsibility. We need to suck it up and be responsible for taking care of ourselves.’
Here’s a bootstrap for ya!
A narrative gaining currency among Rick Snyder’s defenders explains his flip-flop on right-to-work legislation as a reluctant response to labor unions who put Proposal 2 on the November ballot over the governor’s objections, then refused to bargain with good faith with him afterward.
But the truth? Snyder hasn’t gotten much respect from the groups backing right-to-work, either.
Americans For Prosperity, founded by billionaire tea party titans David and Charles Koch, is heralding Michigan’s imminent passage of right-to-work legislation laws in Michigan as “the shot heard around the world” in the fight to weaken unions.
But the group was also a significant financial backer of Proposal 5, an effort to amend the Michigan Constitution to bar tax increases without a two-thirds legislative supermajority.
So why would Snyder turn from labor unions to a group that was behind a constitutional amendment he described as “bad public policy”?
The answer may lie in another Koch-funded group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which promotes a radical right-wing agenda in states across the country, supplying “model legislation” to sympathetic lawmakers.
The organization boasts more than 2,000 legislative members. It also has corporate members, who weigh in on the model legislation before it’s approved by the group’s public-sector committee, the group’s national chairman said in an interview he gave after dozens of pieces of ALEC-written model legislation were leaked last year in a joint project by The Nation and the Center for Media and Democracy.
Michigan’s proposed right-to-work bills mirror the ALEC language practically word-for-word.
It’s unclear how many Michigan lawmakers are members of ALEC; the group doesn’t make its membership rolls public. But at least one of the lawmakers who introduced Michigan’s right-to-work legislation has been associated with ALEC.
Certainly, there are a large number of Michigan legislators who are beholden to Americans for Prosperity, or the Koch brothers. Word is the groups threatened Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville’s leadership post, and promised him a primary challenge in 2014, if he refused to move right-to-work forward.
Hypocrisy for me, but not for thee…
Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party organization backed by the Koch brothers, is set to begin a $25 million advertising assault aimed at President Obama, its largest effort to date.
The ad campaign is the latest example of how independent political groups funded by a small number of wealthy donors are shaping the presidential campaign in key swing states. Conservative groups and “super PACs” have been particularly aggressive, pummeling Mr. Obama on the airwaves as Mitt Romney’s campaign waits until after the Republican National Convention — when it will be legally permitted to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars it has raised in recent months — to ramp up its advertising efforts.
American for Prosperity said that the first of several ads would begin appearing on Wednesday in 11 battleground states, including here in Florida. The campaign will last for three weeks — extending through Labor Day weekend — and includes Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The first ad, titled “President Obama: A One-Term Proposition,” hits the president over the rising national debt — an issue that conservative political groups like Americans for Prosperity and American Crossroads, which is run with the help of Karl Rove, believe is particularly powerful with swing voters in this election.
The commercial focuses on an excerpt from an interview Mr. Obama gave to NBC News at the beginning of his term in which he pledged to cut the debt. It was during that interview that he uttered the phrase that his rivals now regularly use against him: “I will be held accountable.”
A little dirty history of Cain:
Herman Cain was the Godfather Pizza CEO a long time ago. More recently, he has been a talking head for Koch front group Americans For Prosperity but his career has been very interesting and tied to position after position of directorships in both business and business lobby groups.
Cain resigned as CEO of Godfather Pizza in 1996. After that, he became the CEO of the national restaurant association, a lobby group for corporate food interests. He had been a chairman concurrently while still at Godfather.
It is interesting that in 1992 also, that Cain became a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where Koch Industries, has a great deal of influence. He left in 1996.
Being the busy, DC/corporate player that he was, he also got on the board of directors of the now defunct, and corrupt, Aquila Inc. in 1992. He was there until 2008. Aquila was an energy corporation tied up in the Enron scandal amongst other dirty dealings while Cain was on the board of directors.
From Wiki, a brief history of Aquila.
In 2001 UtiliCorp spun off Aquila but then bought it back in 2002 and then renamed the entire corporation Aquila, Inc. Aquila’s stock price peaked at $37.55 in May 2001 and it ranked #33 on the Fortune 500. The stock plummeted to $6.75 in July 2002 in the wake of the Enron scandal which had called into question business practices of all electric utilities. In 2004, five lawsuits were filed in federal court alleging that Aquila’s board of directors steered employees into heavily investing their retirement savings in company stock. On Jan. 26, 2005, these suits were folded into a single class action alleging top company officials violated the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act requiring that employers manage employees retirement programs responsibly. The company settled the case for $10.5 million in April 2007. The company began selling its assets and dropped to 891 on the Fortune list in 2007.
Notice the bold… That was on Cain’s watch!
It was in this period that Cain became a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity. Given his directorship at Aquila, it is not hard to see the connections he made to Koch industries.
Speculations about that aside, at some point, Cain became directly involved with Koch organizations. Through Americans for Prosperity, he officially began working for them in 2005. His campaign manager is the former director of an AFP branch. Also from the wiki,
Starting in 2005, Cain worked for the Koch family funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) alongside Mark Block. Block would later become campaign manager for Cain’s 2012 Presidential run and would be joined in Cain’s campaign by several other AFP employees. Cain continued to receive honorariums for speaking at AFP events until he announced his campaign for the Republican nomination. Cain’s senior economic advisor during his 2012 presidential campaign, Rich Lowrie, who helped devise Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, had served on the AFP board. 
Now what is AFP?
As a Koch astroturf/lobby organization, they strongly support taxing the poor and middle class while putting more money into the hands of the wealthy, cutting corporate taxes and regulations and opposing any sort of action on climate change. They are not above shady and illegal actions to promote their agenda.
They are powerful and they are the backbone of Cain’s campaign.
A short list of AFP’s activities include:
Fake eviction notices in Detroit, mislabelled ballots in Wisconsin, anti union initiatives in Wisconsin, 40 million dollars spent on campaigns for teabags in congress in 2010, astroturf campaigns against healthcare reform via subgroup Patients United Now, authoring and pushing the No Climate Tax pledge, the Hot Air tour which propagandises climate science denial across the nation and internationally, and they hosted the “Defending the American Dream Summits”, which involved many of the current GOP crop currently running for office.
They are also funding and creating Cain’s campaign. He is a ready made and paid for Koch lackey and the Kochs are his campaign.
Rachel Maddow has more:
According to her, Cain’s campaign is non-existent in several key primary states. She speculates that in the new post Citizen’s United environment, he doesn’t need to campaign that hard given the current field of opponents. He has a ready made and powerful infrastructure that has picked him as their candidate.