Why Has America Rejected Obama-care? NYT Blames Karl Rove Ads, Conservative Commentators

The New York Times is disturbed that the blue-collar folks of Pennsylvania haven't swallowed Obama-care. Reporter Abby Goodnough blames conservative ad campaigns for convincing gullible citizens while suggesting the facts are on the side of Obama-care supporters, while opponents harbor "resentments and dark predictions." From the front of Thursday's National section, "Opinion of Health Care Law Reflects Ad Spending":

Erika Losse is precisely the kind of person President Obama’s signature health care law is intended to help. She has no health insurance. She relies on her mother to buy her a yearly checkup as a Christmas gift, and she pays out of her own pocket for the rest of her medical care, including $1,250 for a recent ultrasound.

But Ms. Losse, 33, a part-time worker at a bagel shop, is no fan of the law, which will require millions of uninsured Americans like herself to get health coverage by 2014. Never mind that Ms. Losse, who makes less than $35,000 a year, would probably qualify for subsidized insurance under the law.

“I’m positive I can’t afford it,” she said.

A Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the health care law is expected any day now, but even if the Obama administration wins in the nation’s highest court, most evidence suggests it has lost miserably in the court of public opinion. National polls have consistently found the health care law has far more enemies than friends, including a recent New York Times/CBS News poll that found more than two-thirds of Americans hope the court will overturn some or all of it.

Instead of considering that Americans might be rejecting still more federal intrusion into health care, Goodnough points the finger at conservative ad campaigns, including money spent by the paper's favorite enemy Karl Rove.

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.


Here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, which, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, is one of the top five media markets for ad spending against the health care law, it is apparent how such messaging is playing out. (The other top markets are Orlando, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; Pittsburgh; and Denver, all in swing states.) In interviews with about two dozen residents who were mostly opposed to the law, certain worries, resentments and dark predictions about it came up time and again.

Nearly everyone said the nation could not afford the law’s goal of insuring about 30 million Americans, mostly through a vast expansion of the Medicaid program and federal subsidies to help others who cannot afford to buy coverage on their own. A striking number of people also said the law would limit patient choices and lead to rationing of care -- a fear that has been stoked by conservative lawmakers, talk-radio hosts and commentators on networks like Fox, in addition to the political action committees that have run ads attacking the law.


[Businessman Richard] Tems also offered grim predictions about what might transpire under the law -- citing, for example, the death in 2009 of the actress Natasha Richardson, who suffered a brain injury while skiing in Canada. Repeating what some conservative commentators have said, he theorized that Ms. Richardson died because she did not have fast access to the care she needed under Canada’s government-run health care system.

Goodnough injected Obama-care talking points and concluded with one of the few supporters of the law accusing opponents of willful ignorance.

[Cindy McMahon and Debbie Zimmerman] would probably qualify for subsidized insurance under the law, but since the subsidies would come in the form of tax credits, Ms. Zimmerman said they would be cold comfort. “Even if they gave you tax credits,” she said, “you couldn’t get that until April. What are you going to do the rest of the year?”

(In fact, people who qualify for the credits would not have to wait until filing their taxes to receive them under the law.)

Mr. Schiff’s wife, Sandy -- like him a retiree and registered Democrat who thinks the law does not go far enough -- said she thought many Americans were not interested in figuring out how it would work.

“A lot of people say, ‘Don’t confuse me with the facts,’ “ Ms. Schiff said. “It’s an emotional issue.”