Vulnerable Democratic senators in tight races are vowing to fix Obamacare, but a national ad campaign unveiled Tuesday by conservative groups calls those promises nothing more than lip service.
The video, sponsored by American Commitment and American Encore, features the Democratic Senate incumbents insisting the Affordable Care Act can be repaired after its disastrous October roll-out, then shows other top Democrats saying there are no plans for a legislative fix.
The Democrats also are shown in clips echoing President Obama’s infamous and emphatic promise that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” which the ad calls a lie, showing Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat, saying “we all knew” policy cancellations were the inevitable result of Obamacare.
“They won’t fix it,” the ad concludes. “It’s just another Obamacare lie.”
The $100,000 campaign kicked off with an online video targeting seven Senate Democratic incumbents seeking reelection: Mark Begich of Alaska, Al Franken of Minnesota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Mark Warner of Virginia.
Both American Commitment and American Encore are 501©4 non-profits, which means they are not required to disclose their donors.
Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, worked previously for Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, co-founded by conservative funder David Koch, while American Encore head Sean Noble also has ties to the Koch brothers.
“Millions of Americans are suffering the disastrous consequences of this law, and the same Senate Democrats who thwart any attempt to fix the worst elements of the law are out on the campaign trail claiming that, if reelected, they will fix it,” said Mr. Kerpen and Mr. Noble in a joint memo. “It’s a slap in the face and we won’t allow it to go unchallenged.”
Three of the targeted Democrats, led by Mrs. Landrieu, unveiled a package of proposed Obamacare reforms in March, which included offering a lower-premium, higher deductible “copper plan,” and expanding small-business health care tax credits.
“As I have said from the beginning, the Affordable Care Act is not perfect. No law is,” said Mrs. Landrieu in a March 27 statement. “That is why I am happy to join with several of my colleagues to put forth some ideas to make it work even better.”
But critics say Democrats are attempting to placate voters while proposing measures that fail to address the real problems and, what’s more, have no shot of passage under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Senate has taken no action on more than 40 bills passed by the House addressing Obamacare.
While polls continue to show most Americans oppose Obamacare, they do show strong support for fixing the government health-care program.
“Appealing to that larger group is the principal Democratic public relations strategy for surviving the constant bad news about the law’s implementation,” said the memo from Mr. Kerpen and Mr. Noble. “At the same time, the Democratic legislative strategy remains to block all changes to the law in the Senate, without allowing committee consideration, amendments, or votes.”
Obamacare has received less attention in recent weeks amid the outcry over the Veterans Administration scandal and congressional probe into the Benghazi attack, but Mr. Kerpen said he expects interest to reignite when the 2015 health-care premiums are released over the summer.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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