If you’ve ever been on a used car lot, you have experienced one of the great truisms in sales – often the harder the pitch, the weaker the product. And from the beginning, we’ve seen an unprecedented effort by the Obama administration to polish up its lemon of a health care overhaul and to convince the American people they’re getting a luxury vehicle.
We know about the “misleading” advertisements featuring former television star Andy Griffith, the high-priced marketing firm, hired by the Obama administration to craft its messaging, the massive internet search engine campaign – all at taxpayer’s expense.
We know about these things because Judicial Watch has done the gritty work of forcing the release of government records. (The total cost of the Obamacare propaganda campaign was estimated to be as high as $200 million, by the way.)
And regarding the purpose of this propaganda machine, remember this gem from documents we uncovered from HHS? “Health and program-related messages are processed by the target audience according to a particular reality, which he or she experiences. Attitudes, feelings, values, needs, desires, behaviors and beliefs all play a part in the individual’s decision to accept information and make a behavioral change.”
That one still creeps me out as it is the exact description of brainwashing.
But this week, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, we learned that the Obama administration considered, but rejected, telling the truth about Obamacare’s destructive effects
As President Barack Obama pushed for a new federal health law in 2009, he made a simple pledge: If you like your insurance plan, you can keep your plan. But behind the scenes, White House officials discussed whether that was a promise they could keep.
When the question arose, Mr. Obama’s advisers decided that the assertion was fair, interviews with more than a dozen people involved in crafting and explaining the president’s health-care plan show.
But at times, there was second-guessing. At one point, aides discussed whether Mr. Obama might use more in-depth discussions, such as media interviews, to explain the nuances of the succinct line in his stump speeches, a former aide said. Officials worried, though, that delving into details such as the small number of people who might lose insurance could be confusing and would clutter the president’s message.
“You try to talk about health care in broad, intelligible points that cut through, and you inevitably lose some accuracy when you do that,” the former official said.
You read that right. Government officials were worried the truth would clutter the president’s message. And so they kicked accuracy to the curb in favor of “simpler” falsehoods.
(Actually, the president’s promise was even stronger than described by the Journal: “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” [Emphasis added.])
Now that Obamacare is law, we now know the truth. The Journal continues…
The breadth of Mr. Obama’s statement proved to be a miscalculation. Mr. Obama repeated the claim, with only occasional caveats, through this week, when a flurry of cancellation notices from insurers to customers around the country prompted him to recalibrate.
In other words, the “if you like your plan you can keep it” Obama mantra turns out to be a bold-faced lie and the president is trying to save face (or lie about his initial lies) while acknowledging what cannot be ignored.
According to industry experts, as many as 10 million Americans will have their health care plans terminated by year’s end, leaving them with skyrocketing out-of-pocket expenses. You see, health insurers read the writing on the wall. Existing plans will surely die out if there are no new customers. So why keep them on life support?
Of course, the Obama administration saw this coming. They knew plans would be cancelled. In fact, that was one of their principle goals, to have more Americans leave their health insurance plans and enter into “improved” plans offered through Healthcare.gov exchanges. But this proved to be an “inconvenient truth” that would surely undermine the president’s bumper sticker campaign message. And they couldn’t take that risk – 10 million Americans be damned.
By the way, the Obama excuse that Obamacare only changed the plans in the individual insurance market is also misleading. Employers who provide health insurance have also been forced to curtail wages, hours, and jobs to comply with the Obamacare mandate. If you have a job with health insurance and get laid off, you will lose your health insurance as surely as the millions of individuals now receiving Obamacare-caused cancellation notices.
The net result for the president is some very real trouble. Democrats in Congress who voted for this monstrosity are nervous, and the leftist press is having an increasingly difficult time making lemonade. (Even Obama defender and television host John Stewart is “tired of all the Obamacare lies.” This scandal has all but shredded, for those few who still believed it, the notion of Obama’s having the most transparent administration in history.)
And now, the Obama administration has given up on recalibration in favor of distraction, by arguing that it doesn’t matter, because these people will ultimately have better health plans. The American Enterprise Institute’s Jonah Goldberg demonstrates the folly of this argument:
If a landlord promises you can keep your dog when you move into an apartment, but then after you sign the lease he takes your dog and replaces it with a stuffed one, he wasn’t telling you the truth. The landlord’s view that the new dog is better (“No mess! No noise!”) is utterly irrelevant to the question of whether the landlord lied — and it doesn’t make you a fool for preferring your old dog, either.
At any rate, it doesn’t appear to be working. The American people are too smart. We saw Obamacare for what it was – a watered down version of health care socialism – and that’s why the public has never supported it. (Or “make a decision to accept information and make a behavioral change,” to use the administration’s creepy Big Brother language.)
Judicial Watch and other conservatives always knew that Obamacare, conceived in corruption and secrecy, was full of lies and would lead to the destruction of health insurance system that is taking place now.
The lying president will try to power his way through this credibility crisis. And I’m sure the media, now going after him for a bit, will get back on board with Obama.
In the meantime, Judicial Watch will persist and seek truth and accountability. We have many pending Obamacare open records investigations, but this week we began a new, massive, and nationwide investigation of the Obamacare debacle. I will provide you more details later, but rest assured that we are on the case!
A Sweetheart No-Bid Contract for Obama-Connected Marketing Firm?
The government contracting process is supposed to be transparent, fair, and subject to open bidding so the American people can have confidence that politicians and their appointees in the federal bureaucracies do not engage in the behavior of rewarding campaign donors with sweetheart deals.
Note I said supposed to be transparent, fair and open. Often it is not, as evidenced by an apparently corrupt arrangement between the Obama USDA and an Obama-connected marketing firm.
This week we announced the release of 44 pages of documents revealing that in 2010, the USDA evidently violated federal law by giving a $100,000 no-bid contract to a marketing firm with close ties to President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. The funds were for the purpose of spearheading Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” obesity initiative.
How close were the ties?
Top executives of the firm Shepardson, Stern, and Kaminsky (SS+K) previously held key positions on Obama campaign staffs, and the firm produced advertising for the 2012 Obama campaign, including the controversial “Your First Time” TV commercial, which compared voting to losing one’s virginity.
Importantly, even the USDA has admitted that the contract might have been unlawful. Following the early February 2010 delivery of the SS+K materials, the USDA, in an apparent effort to justify the no-bid contract, produced a “Request for Ratification of an Unauthorized Commitment” conceding possible violations of Federal Acquisition and Agriculture Acquisition regulations.
The Request said the USDA employee “was not aware of the contracting process” and that “the importance of this program necessitated an aggressive schedule that hindered his ability to research the process.”
Let me cut through the bureaucrat-speak for a moment: What the Obama administration argues here is that the urgent need to advance Michelle Obama’s obesity initiative was of greater importance than following the law! And the person who presided over the contract allocation did not even have a basic understanding of the contracting process.
Once again, we see the perfect storm of incompetence, corruption and cover-up from this administration.
The records also reveal that in early April the Deputy Director of the USDA Office of Procurement & Property Management sent an email to the project director asking, “What did we get for our money?” Also, the commitment might have been “unauthorized.”
The documents obtained by JW on October 22, 2013, were in response to a June 13, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the following information from January 1, 2010, to the present:
- Any and all contracts between USDA and SS+K, a creative marketing firm located at 1717 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Suite 660, Washington, DC 20036 and Pine Street, 30th Floor, New York, NY 10005.
- Any and all records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the United States Department of Agriculture and any officer, employee, or representative of SS+K.
According to the documents, the USDA awarded SS+K the “unauthorized commitment,” no-bid contract to produce the “Let’s Move” logo, slogan, and artwork for Michelle Obama’s campaign, as well as the creative design for the “Let’s Move” website, which right now features characters from the Muppets as well as photos of Michelle Obama dancing/exercising.
ThHe and conservatives, that any government-funded campaign that involves puppets does not rise to the level of an “urgent need” that requires government officials to ignore the rule of law.)
SS+K evidently delivered the completed project in February 2010 with a 30-day invoice. On April 5, 2010, Jodey Edwards, Deputy Director, USDA, Office of Procurement & Property Management, sent an email to USDA Administrative Officer Yvette Ward asking, “What did we get for our money … any deliverable? I know this is an unauthorized commitment: however the[y] still must provide evidence of what is being paid for …”
To say that SS+K saw a precipitous rise in its government contracting business after Obama took office would be an understatement.
Prior to the $100,000 “Let’s Move” no-bid contract, SS+K also received contracts totaling $2 million from the Obama Department of Education for the “TEACH” teacher recruitment campaign in 2010. Previous to the Obama election, the firm, founded in the early 1990s, had landed only one government contract, a $50,000 contract from the Department of Defense in 2002.
This increase in government business – from $50,000 to $2.1 million – comes as no surprise given the connections of the company’s higher-ups.
The firm’s founding partner, Robert Shepardson, previously led SS+K’s work on the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Marty Cooke, who also worked on the “Let’s Move” account for SS+K, was the creative director during the Obama ’08 campaign. SS+K vice president Mike Moffo is the former National Director of Special Projects for the Obama 2008 campaign. Other SS+K clients include the AFL-CIO, George Soros’ Open society Foundation, and the Democratic National Committee.
Look, this is as much a sweetheart deal as I have ever seen and I have seen a lot of them. Just as with the no-bid contract for the disastrous Obamacare website, it is clear Barack Obama is paying off his friends out of the public treasury. And for the USDA to try to justify its sleight of hand by claiming that the “importance” of the program “necessitated an aggressive schedule” is both disingenuous and insulting.
Help Protect the Religious Freedoms of our Military Servicemen and Women
As Veteran’s Day approaches, I want to add my voice to the chorus of voices expressing appreciation for our men and women in uniform. At Judicial Watch we have a number of employees who have served our country, and the protection and defense of our American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines has always been a priority for us.
That’s one reason why we have been so active in trying to get to the truth behind the outrageous and offensive decision by the Obama administration to block World War II veterans from visiting a memorial built to commemorate their courage and sacrifices 60 years ago.
And it’s also why we have joined a coalition of 19 organizations, led by the Family Research Council, to protect the religious freedoms of all American servicemen and women.
And yes, sadly, these freedoms need protecting.
If you have just a moment, please click over to this video, “Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military.” In the video you will hear directly from military personnel who have been attacked and marginalized for their Christian beliefs.
And you want to know the saddest thing about this video? These men must speak from the shadows and have their voices altered to protect their identities – simply because they are Christians.
Honestly, I never thought I’d see the day.
“The threats to military religious freedoms have gotten much, much worse,” says one of the GIs in the film. Bibles and prayer services have been banned. The Air Force has removed “God” from a unit’s logo. The Army has removed the cross and steeple from a chapel. And much worse.
The personnel in the film chillingly talk of the tactics of fear and intimidation and abuse they have suffered for their beliefs.
And think about the irony for just a moment. The military is shifting from a policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with respect to the sexual preferences of service personnel to one allowing homosexuals to serve openly and without discrimination, while Christian military personnel are being persecuted – to the point where they dare not even show their faces or have their voices heard on the issue.
Something is very, very wrong throughout the United States military, and as the GIs in this film note, the problems will not stop there.
“It represents a clear and present danger to our military service to eradicate our forces from the Christian influence,” states one of the military service members. “I think we will see dire consequences if we don’t work now to stop the repression of Christian faith, particularly in the military.
“The American people need to understand, this is not going to stop with the military. It’s not going to stop there. This kind of repression is crouching at the door of our American churches…It’s important for us as Christians to step up to the challenge.”
So, will you step up to the challenge? Here are three things you can do this weekend in the lead up to Veteran’s Day.
- Watch the video.
- Visit www.militaryfreedom.org. There are a number of petitions you can sign to show your support for our coalition’s cause. Add your voice to ours.
- Read the FRC’s “Clear and Present Danger” report, which recounts in detail all of the attacks on religious freedom inside the military. Get informed and become an advocate.
- Spread through your networks this newspaper ad that will appear nationally on Monday (Veteran’s Day).
- Educate yourself about Judicial Watch’s investigations and disclosures on the radical left’s abuse of our military.
Honestly, I wish that I could simply use this space this week for the sole purpose of thanking our servicemen and women for all they do to keep us safe from harm. But saying “thank you” is just not enough this Veteran’s Day.
Our military personnel who are traditional Christians have been placed on the “enemies list” of this administration, as evidenced by the WWII Memorial and national cemetery desecrations, and their First Amendment-protected religious freedoms are being attacked on a daily basis.
This is our time as Americans, as Christians, as people of faith, to rise up and do our part to defend our military personnel from these attacks and abuses. This is a great way to say “thank you” to those who serve.
Until next week…
Tom Fitton, President