Obama Backers Outspend Obama Opponents Nearly Three to One on Healthcare Ads

(NEWSMAX)   Supporters of President Barack Obama’s healthcare plans are outspending rivals nearly three to one even as Democrats complain about the grassroots protests that have broken out around the country.

Nearly $24 million worth of advertising has been spent by supporters of the Obama’s administration’s plans to radically overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, compared with just $9 million from opponents, according to The New York Times.

“I’m up against a dozen groups running ads that will spend between $50 million and $80 million to promote a public plan and promote an employer mandate, regardless of the cost,” said R. Bruce Josten, executive vice president for governmental affairs for the United States Chamber of Commerce, which has produced ads attacking the Obama administration’s ideas about healthcare. “We’re trying to create a dialogue rather than cede the ground.”

An additional $24 million has been broadly spent in support of overhauling the system without backing a specific plan. And even that figure doesn’t include much of the money being spent by think thanks, sympathetic political media sites and other elements of the Democratic Party’s media machine.

Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster who is advising several Democrats on Capitol Hill, told the Times that whoever defined the debate would win it. “Opponents are trying to cement the notion that this is all about government-run health care,” Mr. Garin said, “while supporters want to cement the notion that this is about fixing a badly broken system.”

But the Democratic message has been crippled by in-fighting within their own ranks as the far left of the party has slammed Obama and centrists for readily dropping the idea of “single-payer” socialized medicine. Some pollsters cite this trend for the severe erosion in support for the president’s plans, in addition to the unexpected groundswell being seen at town hall meetings around the country.

In a highly unusual move, the Democratic committee attacked senators from its own party — Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska — who have been skeptical of an overhaul or of the public option. The spot shows average voters with tales of woe who say “it’s time” for an overhaul.

Organizing for America, the reconstituted Obama campaign team, is working hand in hand with the Democratic National Committee and features the “it’s time” commercial on its Web site.

Liberal groups like MoveOn.org are presenting more personal attacks against conservative House Democrats, including Representatives John Barrow of Georgia, Jim Matheson of Utah and Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, all of whom voted against a Democratic health bill in committee. The advertisements tell viewers in those districts that their congressman “sided with the special interests and insurance companies.”

In addition, the conservative message implicit any many anti-overhaul ads is much easier to convey: no government bureaucracies, no rationing of healthcare, and the freedom to choose one’s own physician.

As an example, the Times cited one commercial showing a red balloon that expands as the narrator warns that an overhaul would increase deficits, taxes and government control. Eventually, the balloon pops.

The White House conceded to the Times that Obama, who is stumping the country for his health care plan, has lost some ground. They blame it partly on what they call “misleading advertisements” suggesting that the government will ration health care or that senior citizens will be denied end-of-life care.

Both sides are broadcasting their message in many of the same battleground states — including Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska and North Carolina — to reach conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans who may determine the fate of the bill.

In a $12 million advertising buy that began last week in 12 states, a coalition of drug companies, doctors, for-profit hospitals and union members defended overhauling the system. With piano music playing over pictures of patients with health care workers, the commercial portrays the overhaul as providing “quality, affordable care you can count on.” The coalition calls itself Americans for Stable Quality Care.

“It’s very carefully drafted,” Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, one of the biggest players in the debate in support of an overhaul, said of the commercial. “We don’t want to fan the flames; we want to calm people down.”

The “red balloon” commercial was sponsored by the United States Chamber of Commerce. Josten told the Times that his group started advertising in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Maine and North Carolina to bolster lawmakers who had expressed opposition to a government-run insurance option. The chamber expanded its multimillion-dollar advertising campaign last week to 15 more states.

“I’m up against a dozen groups running ads that will spend between $50 million and $80 million to promote a public plan and promote an employer mandate, regardless of the cost,” Josten said. “We’re trying to create a dialogue rather than cede the ground.”


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