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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 October 23, 2014 07:29 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department will report today on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. Economists forecast that weekly applications increased 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000.

Also today, Freddie Mac will report on average mortgage rates for this week. Last week, the average for the 30-year loan slid to 3.97 percent.

The Conference Board will release its index of leading indicators for September as well. In August, the index - a gauge designed to predict the economy's future health - rose but at a much slower pace than the previous month

On the business side: Southwest Airlines, United Continental, American Airlines, Union Pacific, 3M, Comcast, General Motors and Caterpillar will report quarterly financial results before the market opens.

Amazon and Microsoft will report earnings after the market closes.

APPLE PAY GLITCH

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (AP) -- Bank of America is apologizing for double-billing customers who made purchases using Apple's new mobile payments service.

A bank spokeswoman said Wednesday that the glitch involved about 1,000 transactions and that all duplicate charges will be refunded.

Some customers who used Apple Pay with debit cards issued by Bank of America have complained they were charged twice for a single transaction.

Apple says it was aware of the glitch, which it said affected "a very small number of Apple Pay users." The Cupertino, California-based company has not disclosed how many customers have used Apple Pay since it became available Monday.

HARVARD-STAPLES-POSTAL WORKERS

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- The American Postal Workers Union called upon Harvard University's president to oppose a deal between Staples Inc. and the U.S. Postal Service, or resign her seat on the office supply company's board.

Staples, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, began providing postal services at some of its stores last year, under a partnership with the financially-struggling Postal Service.

The union, which represents some 200,000 workers, took out a full-page ad Wednesday in the Harvard Crimson, the Ivy League school's student newspaper, saying President Drew Gilpin Faust should use her position on the board to push for an end to the deal or resign from the company board. The union says Staples is using poorly-trained workers to handle mail in a low-security environment.

Neither Faust nor Staples responded to requests for comments.

YAHOO-CEO AT CROSSROADS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Signaling her reign has reached a pivotal juncture, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to convince restless shareholders that the long-struggling Internet company is heading in the right direction.

Mayer staunchly defended her strategy during a Tuesday presentation that addressed recent criticism leveled by activist investor Starboard Value LP, a New York hedge fund with a history of leading shareholder mutinies.

Starboard contends that since Mayer became CEO in July 2012, Yahoo has been wasting money on ill-advised acquisitions and a bloated payroll while mismanaging its lucrative stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group.

In her rebuttal, Mayer described the $1.6 billion spent her more than 30 acquisitions as smart investments that have made Yahoo more competitive in the increasingly important mobile-device market. She also highlighted cost-cutting measures.

And she insisted that Yahoo wouldn't have been in a position to make as much money as it has on its Alibaba holdings if she hadn't taken steps to ease "years of tension and hard feelings.

CHINA-ZUCKERBERG

Zuckerberg speaks Chinese; Beijing students cheer

BEIJING (AP) -- China may ban Facebook, but not its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and he entertained an audience of students with a 30-minute chat in his recently learned Mandarin Chinese at a prestigious Beijing university.

There was no explicit discussion of the ban or any Facebook effort to enter the China market during Wednesday's question-and-answer session at Tsinghua University.

But Facebook CEO Zuckerberg noted during his talk that the social media giant already helps some Chinese companies gain customers abroad. He cited computer maker Lenovo's ads on Facebook in India.

Zuckerberg married Chinese-American Priscilla Chan in 2012 and said he was learning Chinese.

His pronunciation was far from fluent, but he maintained the conversation for a half hour and the students responded with warm cheers for his effort and laughter at his humor.

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

BEIJING (AP) -- A gauge of the health of China's manufacturing industry inched higher in October but factory output was at a five-month low in a sign of slowing domestic and foreign demand.

HSBC said Thursday the preliminary version of an index based on a survey of factory purchasing managers rose to 50.4 from 50.2 in September. Figures above 50 on the 100-point scale indicate expansion.

HSBC's chief China economist says manufacturing likely stabilized in October but the "economy continues to show signs of insufficient effective demand."

Earlier this week, China reported economic growth in the third as growth based on trade and industrial investment runs out of steam.

WORLD SERIES-RATINGS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A World Series opener involving the San Francisco Giants set a record low TV rating for the second time in three seasons.

San Francisco's 7-1 win over Kansas City drew a 7.3 rating and 12.2 million viewers Tuesday night on Fox, according to fast national ratings by Nielsen Media Research.

That broke the previous low of a 7.6 rating and 12.2 million for the Giants' 8-3 victory over Detroit in 2012. San Francisco's 11.7 win over Texas in the 2010 opener got an 8.9 rating.

The rating for this year's opener began with a 6.9 from 8:05-8:30 p.m. EDT and peaked at 8.5 in the half hour starting at 9 p.m. With the Giants scoring three runs in the first inning and leading 5-0 by the fourth, the rating ended at 5.7 from 11:30-11:41 p.m.

Still, Fox said Wednesday it expects to win the prime-time night and have its best Tuesday night since February 2012.

Fox Deportes averaged 273,000 viewers, a record for Spanish-language World Series coverage.

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