Get ready, this is about to get VERY ugly
The opening salvos in the involvement of Super PACs in the 2012 presidential race happened in the past week. There are two very obvious examples and they should give us all a taste of the bitterness we’re going to see over the next seven months.
First, American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s privately-funded group, announced it would begin a massive media campaign to attack President Obama.
American Crossroads, the biggest of the Republican “super PACs,” is planning to begin its first major anti-Obama advertising blitz of the year, a moment the Obama re-election campaign has been girding for and another sign that the general election is starting in earnest.
With an anticipated bank account of more than $200 million, officials at American Crossroads said they would probably begin their campaign this month. But they said they would focus the bulk of the first phase from May through July, which they believe is a critical period for making an impression on voters, before summer vacations and the party conventions take place.
This is not about supporting a candidate. Rather, this is a full-frontal assault designed to damage the credibility of the president with the American people.
The second example is a bit more subtle but still all about harming the president. As Think Progress reports, the Mercatus Center is out with a new report that uses their own version of math to “prove” that the Affordable Care Act is going to add to the national deficit. Who is the Mercatus Center? They are a Koch brothers-funded “think tank” at George Mason University. Charles Koch is on their Board of Directors. The co-founder of the Mercatus Center is Richard Fink who is “executive vice president and member of the board of directors of Koch Industries, Inc. [and] chairman and CEO of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC; which provides legal and government and public affairs services to Koch Industries, Inc. and its affiliates”. In other words, Fink is heads up the Koch brothers’ lobbying group.
George W. Bush’s Social Security privatization guru Charles Blahous — who now works for the Koch-funded Mercatus Center — is out with a new report alleging that the Affordable Care Act adds $340 billion to the deficit. The new math relies on the old “double counting” meme — an argument advanced by Republicans in Congress in the final days of the health care reform debate alleging that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) appropriated the same revenue for extending the solvency of the Medicare trust fund as it did for paying out benefits. [...]
What Blahous calls “double counting” is actually the “unified budget process,” an accounting method that considers the spending and revenues of the entire federal budget over a 10 year period and the way Congress keeps track of its dollars. It’s the same math that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) relied on to conclude in 2010 that the law “would produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion over the 2010–2019 period as result of changes in direct spending and revenues.” Earlier this week, the CBO updated its estimate, reporting that the Affordable Care Act is expected to cost $50 billion less than they anticipated and Medicare actuaries reported that as a result of the savings in the law, the life of Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI) Fund is extended to 2024, instead of in 2016.
That last bit that I put in bold is the truth as told by the non-political Congressional Budget Office. What Blahous and the Mercatus Center want Americans to believe is based on accounting procedures that give them the answer they want.
I am sure that Republicans and their corporate funders will be doing everything they can to convince Americans of all sorts of untruths; it’s been the norm for decades and is now only worse with the Citizens United-infusion of corporate money into our national elections. We’ll be told, for example, that President Obama is somehow responsible for rising gas prices even that (a) it’s not true and (b) Americans aren’t allowing higher gas prices to affect their consumer spending. But their corporate-sponsored media blitz coupled with the unseemly and anti-American cheerleading for higher fuel costs by Republicans are likely to have an impact.
What are we to do about this? Well, first, we can pay attention. Get the facts, educate yourselves and talk to your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. Getting the truth out is paramount.
Second, GET INVOLVED! Sign up to work for a group that represents YOUR interests and not the interests of the wealthiest 1% desperate to preserve their tax breaks and positions of privilege.
I personally am a big fan of Obama for America (OFA). Their database, strategy and overall ground game is unparalled in history. While the Super PACs and the Republicans spend their money on ads and clown show antics, the Obama campaign, though OFA, is spending its money NOW on putting the framework in place to win in November. And when they win, all of the progressive candidates and ballot proposals on the ticket stand a much better chance of winning, too.
I saw a bit of this recently when I stopped by my local OFA office. Here we are, seven months out from the election, and there were already over a dozen volunteers getting training and phonebanking on a beautiful spring evening.
THAT is how we combat the incredible influx of corporate money spent on deceitful media for television, radio and the internet. Call it people power. Call it what you want. It’s truly grassroots, volunteer organizing and, as they proved in 2008, it is effective.