Thursday, June 21, 2012

How the pump was primed on health care law

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 7:02 AM

Buzz continues that today might be the day for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the health care reform law.

Interesting report on how public opinion has been shaped on this law in an article in today's New York Times.

“The Democrats have done a very poor job of selling the program,” said Gary Schiff, 65, a retired teacher and businessman here. “All you hear about it now is the Republicans saying what’s wrong with it: that it’s socialism, that it’s going to bankrupt the country. I’ll give them credit; they’re great at framing the debate.”

That success may stem in large part from more than $200 million in advertising spending by an array of conservative groups, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($27 million) to Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS ($18 million), which includes the billionaire Sheldon Adelson among its donors, and the American Action Network ($9 million), founded by Fred V. Malek, an investor and prominent Republican fund-raiser.

In all, about $235 million has been spent on ads attacking the law since its passage in March 2010, according to a recent survey by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. Only $69 million has been spent on advertising supporting it. Just $700,000 of that comes from the Obama campaign, and none of its ads mentioning the law are currently being broadcast, said Elizabeth Wilner, vice president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group. “It explains, in a nutshell, why polling shows attitudes about the law to be at best mixed,” she said.

If the Republican Court strikes down the law — with coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for families, bars on rescission, closure of the doughnut hole and other hugely popular elements that have helped millions — public opinion will eventuallly swing. In time for Barack Obama's political benefit? Not likely.

It's an enduring mystery why the Obama administration went to the mat to pass this law — sacrificing Democratic allies in the process — but showed so little effort to win the PR battle afterward.

FLASH: A West Virginia Republican is blasting the House Republican budget because of the radical damage it would do to Medicare on top of cuts that have already harmed seniors. Uh, yeah.

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