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Anti-Obamacare ad stirs controversy

Updated: Friday, February 28, 2014
Anti-Obamacare ad stirs controversy story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Politics is not for the faint-hearted. Now, a Dexter woman who has become a cause célèbre in the ongoing battle against the Affordable Care Act is finding that out.

As a spokesperson for a million-dollar campaign against both the Affordable Care Act and likely Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Rep. Gary Peters, Julie Boonstra has found herself in the middle of what's become a national storm of controversy.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, our Tom Van Howe says the whole problem could be remedied if the ad was simply taken out of circulation.

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At first blush, the commercial is devastating.

Here's an attractive, obviously well-spoken woman implying that the Affordable Care Act is so unaffordable that she'd not be able to afford her meds to fight leukemia.

The essence of it is that Obamacare is going to kill her.

"Now, the out-of-pocket costs are so high," she said, "it's unaffordable. If I do not receive my medication, I will die."

Whether you're against national healthcare or not, it's the kind of TV spot that can make you cough your coffee right up through your nose.

The average response is "Whoa," "Really?" "My God, this is horrible!"

And that's exactly how the right wing political  action group Americans for Prosperity, funded in part, by the renowned  Koch brothers, wants us to react.

It was an emotional, seemingly unimpeachable, and  searing indictment of Obamacare. What could be worse?

The plan is killing people?

Well, under a brighter light, things are often not what they appear to be. And we have  fact-checkers to thank for that illumination.

In this case, it was Glenn Kessler, of the Washington Post. Not any tricky or back-door journalism. He simply called her up.

Without going into all the numbers, he found that Obamacare had, indeed,  forced her out of her $1,300  per month policy--one that had been taking care of all her out-of-pocket expenses.

Her new plan, however, reduced her monthly expense almost by half--to $571, and capped her out-of-pocket expenses at a little over $6,000. When you add it all up, the difference between then and now is two dollars a year.

That's it. That's all.

My own observation is that Julie was a little confused, and Americans for Prosperity took advantage of her.

Certainly they knew the details even if she didn't.

The ad campaign is now discredited. It ought to be pulled. But AFP knows that a lot of people will keep right on believing.

And TV stations will  keep right on taking  the ad money.

But it would be nice if one of the stations in this state simply said, "your commercial is misleading and inflammatory and we're not going to air it anymore."

Wishful thinking, but it would be nice.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on September 19, 2014 17:24 GMT

ALIBABA-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Alibaba's stock is surging as the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse begins its first day trading as a public company.

The stock opened at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange this morning, up 36 percent from the initial $68 per share price set Thursday evening.

At that price the company would be worth $228.5 billion, more than companies such as Amazon, Ebay and even Facebook.

On Thursday, Alibaba and the investment bankers arranging the IPO settled on a price of $68 per share. The company and its early investors raised $21.8 billion in the offering, which valued Alibaba at $168 billion in one of the world's biggest ever initial public offerings.

But after a two-hour trading delay due to strong demand, it opened much higher than that price. If the stock closes at $92.70, the IPO will have raised close to $30 billion.

LEADING INDICATORS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health rose in August but at a much slower pace than in July.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose 0.2 percent in August, the seventh straight increase. But that was much slower than the revised 1.1 percent gain in July.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says even with the slowdown in August, the index shows the economy is still gaining traction.

STATE UNEMPLOYMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of U.S. states in August, even as employers in two-thirds of the states added jobs.

The Labor Department says unemployment increased in 24 states, fell in 15 and was unchanged in 11. Hiring picked up in 35 states, while it fell in 15.

Unemployment rates can rise even when hiring increases if more people start looking for work and don't immediately find jobs. The figures suggest hiring was broad-based across most regions of the country last month, even as nationwide job gains in August were the weakest this year.

Georgia reported the nation's highest unemployment rate, at 8.1 percent, followed by Mississippi at 7.9 percent. That's the first time Georgia has had the highest rate since the Great Recession ended.

BRITAIN-SCOTLAND-ECONOMY

LONDON (AP) -- Businesses and investors have reacted with relief to Scotland's decision to reject independence from the United Kingdom.

The No campaign won 55 percent of the votes cast in Thursday's referendum. The 10-point victory margin was wider than expected -- most opinion polls on the eve of the vote showed a narrower 4-point victory.

British stocks responded positively to the news Friday, with the FTSE 100 index up 0.3 percent. Royal Bank of Scotland shares were up, and the bank, which is majority-owned by the U.K. government, said it was "business as usual" for its customers.

Some had warned that if Scotland left, uncertainty over the future value of the British pound and government debt would have rattled the U.K economy.

In the currency markets, the pound was solid too, rising to a two-year high against the euro.

EXXON-RUSSIA DRILLING

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Exxon Mobil says it will stop drilling an exploratory well in Russia's Kara Sea in compliance with U.S. sanctions against Russia over Russia's involvement in the Ukraine.

Exxon planned to drill the well between August and October. The latest round of sanctions called for the removal of U.S. workers on projects in the Russian Arctic by Sept. 26.

Exxon says it has received a license from the U.S. Treasury Department to wind down operations, but it is unclear whether the license will allow Exxon to stop drilling on the schedule it had already laid out. Exxon could not be immediately reached for comment.

PABST BREWING-SALE

NEW YORK (AP) -- The maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is being sold to Russian company Oasis Beverages for an undisclosed sum.

In addition to its namesake beer, Pabst Brewing Co. makes Colt 45, Old Milwaukee and Schlitz. Pabst was acquired in 2010 by C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., which is known for investing in food brands.

Pabst Brewing, now based in Los Angeles, traces its roots back to 1844 in Milwaukee. Since purchasing it in 2010, Metropoulos has enlisted comedian Will Ferrell to market the company's beers. Pabst Blue Ribbon has also grown in popularity in part for its blue-collar appeal and cheap price.

Oasis is buying Pabst with TSG, an investment firm known for its work with consumer products companies. TSG Consumer Partners will take a minority stake in Pabst.

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