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 March 27, 2015 17:24 GMT

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter and economists are looking for an even weaker showing in the first quarter as severe winter weather takes a toll on the economy.

But the slowdown is expected to be short-lived. Stronger growth is expected for the rest of the year as a recovering job market supports healthy gains in consumer spending.

The Commerce Department says the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the October-December period, an estimate that was unchanged from a month ago. The economy had surged at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter.

The final look at fourth quarter GDP found consumer spending was stronger than previously estimated but business restocking was weaker.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bad weather and rising gasoline prices pushed U.S. consumer sentiment a bit lower in March.

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index slipped to 93 this month from 95.4 in February. Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey, notes that despite the monthly drop, consumer optimism was the highest in a decade for the first three months of 2015.

Sentiment dropped most this month among low-income households, which are especially sensitive to high utility bills in the winter. Confidence rose for mid- and high-income households. Curtin predicted that an improving job market would boost consumer spending the rest of the year.

AIRLINES-COCKPIT RULES

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- Europe's aviation safety agency is recommending that airlines across the continent always have two people in the cockpit of a flying aircraft.

European airlines, including the Lufthansa Group that includes Germanwings, have been making commitments to implement the measure after it emerged that the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 had apparently locked himself in the cockpit to crash the plane.

U.S. airlines revamped their policies regarding staffing in the cockpit following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But the procedure is not standard in Europe or Canada.

The European Aviation Safety Agency's executive director, Patrick Ky, says "while we are still mourning the victims, all our efforts focus on improving the safety and security of passengers and crews."

The president of the German pilots union Cockpit tells The Associated Press that his organization would support measures requiring two people in the cockpit at all times during flights, but he cautions that such a move wouldn't solve all security problems.

UNITED STATES-ASIAN BANK BLUES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. resistance to a Chinese-led Asian regional bank is leaving it isolated among its Asian and European allies.

That's giving some heft to China's frequent complaints that Washington wants to contain its rise as a world power.

One of America's closest friends in Asia, South Korea, announced Thursday it will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The institution is intended to help finance construction of roads and other infrastructure.

The U.S. has expressed concern that the new bank will allow looser lending standards, undercutting the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, where the U.S. and Japan have the most clout.

But since Britain broke with Washington two weeks ago, other major European economies have signed up for the Chinese-led bank. Australia also appears poised to join.

GREECE-BAILOUT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's alternate minister for international economic relations says his government is prepared for a "rupture" with the country's creditors if its current bailout negotiations don't go well.

Euclid Tsakalotos said Friday the government would not be negotiating properly if it didn't envisage a rupture with its partners, although he would not say what exactly a rupture might entail.

Greece's government is in talks with its creditors -- eurozone nations, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- to unlock urgently needed funds from the country's bailout. It must present a list of reforms by early next week, which it hopes will lead to the disbursement.

Tsakalotos, speaking on private Star TV, said the government was intentionally creating ambiguity with its partners regarding its intentions as a negotiating tactic.

SILICON VALLEY-SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jurors deciding the outcome of a much-watched gender discrimination lawsuit against a prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm are set to enter their third day of deliberations.

The jury of six men and six women are due back in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday in Ellen Pao's lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Pao says the firm discriminated against her because she was a woman and then retaliated by denying her a promotion and firing her when she complained about gender bias.

Kleiner Perkins denies the allegations and says Pao had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.

The case has put a spotlight on gender imbalance and working conditions for women in Silicon Valley.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. oil storage facilities are filling up and the price of oil has collapsed, but an Energy Department advisory council says the U.S. should push now to exploit the trove of oil in the Arctic waters off of Alaska or risk a renewed reliance on imported oil.

The U.S. has drastically cut imports in recent years and transformed itself into the world's biggest producer of oil and natural gas by tapping huge reserves in shale rock formations. But the National Petroleum Council's study predicts that the shale boom won't last much beyond the next decade.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson chaired the committee that drafted the study. He says oil companies need to start probing the Artic because it takes decades of preparation and drilling to bring oil to market.

Geologists estimate the Arctic holds about a quarter of the world's undiscovered conventional oil and gas deposits. But environmental advocates say the Arctic ecosystem is too fragile to risk a spill.

OBAMA-CHEMICAL BOARD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is operating without a permanent leader. Its chairman has been forced to resign, following accusations of mismanagement.

A White House official says Rafael Moure-Eraso (rah-fah-YEL' moh-RAY' eh-RAH'-soh) stepped down Thursday at the administration's request. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

The National Safety Council says the independent federal agency under Moure-Eraso repeatedly fell under scrutiny for board departures, delayed investigations and other issues. Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had accused Moure-Eraso of violating his oath of office and the law. Committee members had requested his resignation.

The board is responsible for investigating chemical accidents. Its members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

President Barack Obama has nominated Vanessa Sutherland to succeed Moure-Eraso.

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