Obamacare was supposed to be popular. It was supposed to be Democrats’ signature piece of legislation that would carry them into a permanent majority. It wasn’t. As it turned out all that was about as true as the unfounded claim that the law would somehow lower health care costs.
So what do you do if you’re the Obama Administration? It’s an election year, and not only that, but it feels like a pivotal moment in national politics. You should be out touting your biggest legislative achievement and talking about all the good it has done. Instead, you’re stuck trying to avoid talking about a bill that voters continue to hate.
It’s a tough question. But it’s one that Obama seems to have found an answer to. You attempt to buy people’s support. The Hill reports:
The Health and Human Services Department has signed a $20 million contract with a public-relations firm to highlight part of the Affordable Care Act.
The new, multimedia ad campaign is designed to educate the public about how to stay healthy and prevent illnesses, an HHS official said.
The campaign was mandated by the Affordable Care Act and must describe the importance of prevention while also explaining preventive benefits provided by the healthcare law. The law makes many preventive services available without a co-pay or deductible, and provides new preventive benefits to Medicare patients.
This isn’t the first time the Obama Administration has attempted to buy support for their deeply unpopular bill.
At first, Obama reached out to his close allies to form several nonprofit groups to spend $25 million to “run an intense public information campaign” and “protect the law,” according to the New York Times. The goal was to prevent the law from doing any harm to Democratic candidates in the run up to the midterms. That didn’t work.
Then they tried to just avoid the law altogether. As Aaron E. Carroll wrote following the State of the Union, Obama devoted just 44 words to the topic, “a mere 0.6% for a subject accounting for more than one-sixth of the U.S. economy.” Rather than talk about health reform (their “signature” achievement) they decided to shift focus to jobs and the economy (far, far from their signature achievement). Given the unemployment rate and the general lackluster economy, you can guess how this strategy went.
Finally, they just settled on a plan to buy people’s support. They’ve already spent more than $3 million making a television ads featuring Andy Griffith talking about how awesome the bill is. The Obama Administration also spent $18 million mailing a brochure touting the benefits of Obamacare to seniors and millions more sending postcards to tout the law’s supposed benefits for small employers.
Now they are hoping the $20 million ad campaign will succeed where the others have failed. Good luck with that.
To add insult to the injury taxpayers should be feeling over having to shell out cash for a bill that a majority feel is unconstitutional, Democrats have previously bashed similar types of activities.
In 2004 several Democrat Congressmen sent the Department and Health and Human Services a letter bashing advertisements explaining the benefits of the new prescription drug benefit. “Taxpayer funds should not be used to wage an ideological or political campaign,” the Democrats’ letter read.
Then again, Democrats have a penchant for suddenly switching positions when the situation dictates it. And boy does the current situation call for a flip-flop. Obamacare continues to be a weight around the ankles of Democrats’ chances in November. What was supposed to carry them to new heights has drug them to new depths. They’ve already dumped tens of millions of private and taxpayer dollars trying to get voters to like the bill, only to see its popularity numbers stay in the dumps.
It’s a bad bill for Democrats. But if we’re being honest it’s a terrible bill for Americans. Do Democrats really have to make it worse by using more of our money to run advertise it?