Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Obama Launches $125 million Campaign To “Sell” Health Reform

The Obama administration today kicked off a multimillion dollar effort to sell health reform to the American public as a lead-up to the November midterm elections and before his possible re-election campaign in 2012. Its purpose is to correct misinformation and disinformation about the health reform bill and to fend off efforts to repeal and replace it.

My dictionary defines “misinformation” as providing people with incorrect information, and “disinformation” as deliberately disseminating misinformation to influence or confuse rivals.

Obama and his followers say political rivals have been spreading malicious gossip, even outright lies, about his health reform bill. For example, rumor mongers have leaked word out that the Office of Management and Budget has announced costs will exceed $1 trillion instead of the $940 billion as advertised. Obamanites say distortion of this truth is now officially at best a misinterpretation, and at worst, a mistruth.

To counter misinformation and disinformation, the Obama team will spend $125 million to correct mistruths about health reform. A $125 million here, and a $125 million there, and pretty soon we’ll be talking about real money. Think of the $125 million as a mis-mini-stimulus.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Victoria Kennedy — widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) — will co-chair the $125 million campaign. White House allies will roll out their PR initiative to defend health care reform amid growing signs Democrats are failing to get political traction on the issue.

Two-thirds of the American people who oppose the bill have apparently misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misconstrued the facts. They have misunderstood individual mandates will require the young and healthy to buy high priced insurance at the same rates as more sickly elders. They have misunderstood those 21 state attorney generals who want to declare Obamacare unconstitutional, partly to protect individual freedoms, partly because their states can’t afford Obamacare. They have misunderstoo those American corporations who say reform will cost them $350 billion and cause them to drop drug benefits for retirees. And they have misunderstood those seniors who misplaced fears the $535 billion cuts in Medicare will effect their benefits. These people are obviously collectively and individually misinformed.

White House heavy hitters will raise $25 million from party donors, unions, foundations and others to broadcast their message through new tax-exempt groups. The Health Information Center will explain the new law which will kick in between now and 2014. The separate Health Information Campaign will work the political side, answering Republican barbs about "ObamaCare" in this fall's election and beyond.

A memo by presidential pollster Joel Benenson is being circulated by the Democratic National Committee says, "As misinformation about President Obama's health care reforms give way to Americans' real-life experience with it, voters are slowly becoming increasingly comfortable with the law and resistant to Republican efforts to repeal it." The operative word here is “slowly,” too slowly for fearful Democrats facing misinformed voters with misplaced political loyalties in November.

"The problem is ObamaCare itself," said Michael Steel, chairman of the Republican Committee, "The American people don't want the higher taxes, higher costs, Medicare cuts, and payoffs to Washington special interests. No glitzy PR campaign bankrolled by their special-interest allies will change that."

Evan Tracey, who tracks political and public affairs advertising, said the administration has a "branding problem.” Derogatory "ObamaCare" comments has drowned out efforts to explain what the law entails. He notes groups opposed to health care reform have spent $21 million in ads. Supporters have spent only $18 million, most of it earlier this year in "soft messages" that have been drowned out by the antis' "much harder and to the point" spots.” The message is: Democrats are compassionate, Republicans are cruel.

Obama will host a tele-town-hall-meeting Tuesday with seniors to tout the $250 rebate checks that those who have fallen into the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole will receive this week. The event, which will include more than 100 watch parties nationwide, is part of a renewed effort led by Stephanie Cutter, a veteran Democratic communications expert guru.

Other Inside-the-Beltway Obama supporters, Families USA and AARP, will launch their own campaigns to correct misinformation and disinformation.

This extraordinary PR blitz is intended to defuse those landmines of mistruths deliberately laid by misinformed rivals. The campaign, phrased in politically correct language, will have a Washington office, a staff picked by the White House, and will feature over 100 events, all to be held before November elections to correct misconceptions that have misled American public, misguiding them to mistaken misconclusions. It will persuade them of the wisdom of Obama’s ways and where his heart resides. It will restore mislaid minds.

The idea behind this campaign, as I perhaps misunderstand it, is to realign misaligned voters who have misconceptions about this mishmash of a health reform bill. I trust the $125 million will not be misspent.

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