President Obama decided to grab $20 million of your money and pump it into an ad campaign to convince you that his signature “legislative achievement,” ObamaCare, isn’t as much of a disaster as everyone knows it is. That’s right: tax money is being pumped into the Obama 2012 re-election campaign, under the guise of “educating” us about a towering failure that the Supreme Court might be about to vaporize anyway.
As the Washington Examiner points out, this sort of thing happens quite frequently:
This isn’t the first time Obama has spent your tax dollars promoting his political agenda. His $831 billion stimulus package contained more than $33.5 million for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, including $17.9 million for a “publicity center” promoting HHS products. During the 2010 election season, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services spent $3.1 million on television ads in which Andy Griffith reassured seniors that Obamacare “guaranteed Medicare benefits will remain the same.” At the time, FactCheck.org noted that “the words in this ad ring hollow,” and that it contained “weasel words” to “mislead” seniors.
Under a completely separate Ogilvy contract, HHS New Media Communications Director Julia Eisman coordinated with the PR firm to drive Internet traffic to an HHS website promoting Obamacare just in time for election day. “Given the high performance, we’re wondering if we should we consider reallocating resources from the lesser performing words and put more $$ to ‘Obamacare’ — at least for the next 7 days,” Eisman wrote in an email to an Ogilvy executive, exactly seven days before the November 2010 election.
But wait, it gets better! The P.R. firm scoring those sweet taxpayer dollars is called Porter Novelli. By an amazing coincidence, as the Daily Caller reports, the managing director of the firm’s D.C. office is Catherine “Kiki” McLean… who just happens to describe herself as “an on-air surrogate for the Obama for America campaign.”
Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller, remembering all those windy Obama speeches railing against “Washington insiders” and “lobbyists,” wonders just how competitive that “competitive bidding process” might have been.
Defenders of the ObamaCare ad campaign point out that a lot of money has been spent to criticize it. Of course, that wasn’t compulsory tax money, taken from a vast sea of Americans that very much want ObamaCare to be repealed.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” He was discussing religious freedom, but the concept is sound enough to apply to every endeavor of government. It would be arguably impossible to completely forbid government from spending public money promoting itself, since every release of positive data, or declaration of benevolent intention, could be construed as advertisement. It’s also reasonable to say that the government must be able to educate citizens about its activities, and how to access its programs.
However, it’s important to pinpoint the boundary between “education” and “politics” when discussing the expenditure of taxpayer funds on these activities. Beyond the nasty whiff of outright corruption floating around the ObamaCare P.R. story, it illustrates the difficulty of separating education from politics when the government grows to its present immense size. How can the leviathan State discuss itself without advertising itself… especially since it has powerful incentives to shape any such discussion in ways that will promote its further growth?
Health care, like so much else in American life, is politicized now. If ObamaCare stands, it will grow increasingly difficult to discuss the topic without venturing into partisan politics – a phenomenon depressingly familiar to everyone who has studied the degenerative political effect of socialized medicine, which forever changes the relationship between citizens and the State.
Or as another keen student of oppression, author Robert Heinlein, put it: “There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.” The whole point of ObamaCare is that it doesn’t matter what you want. It doesn’t even matter what you have religious and moral objections to. You will pay for it, because others have decided it’s good for you. Now you’re going to pay for an expensive campaign to convince you that you really did want it, after all.