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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Obama Mantra: "Don't Forget Health Care"

Obama Mantra: "Don't Forget Health Care"

October 19, 2008

Everyone remembers "It's the economy, stupid," (but if you don't), but not everyone remembers the next line on Carville's sign, "Don't forget health care."

Well, the Obama campaign is not forgetting health care. Today's NY Times has some astonishing figures on how strongly the campaign is pushing health care as the issue to voters. This graphic shows the top three ads Obama ran last week. All were about health. Together, they accounted for 62% of all Obama ads for the week, airing an incredible 27,600 times. (the ads are "Tax Health Care," "Health Care Reform" and "Unravel").

Online, you can dig deeper into this cool interactive ad info tool. It shows that from April through October 13, Obama spent $62 million on some 106,700 airings of health, about 43% of all of his ad spending. I'm sure that proportions for the last month of the campaign will be even higher.

The Obama messaging is appearing to work. NBC reports it obtained a McCain focus group memo, reporting on the last debate. According to NBC, "The respondents believed Obama's interpretation of McCain's health care plan more so than McCain’s interpretation. And that’s not a good sign when your opponent has framed your health care plan for you -- but that's exactly what's happened."

The Obama campaign has moved on from hitting McCain for taxing employer-provided health benefits and allowing insurers to medically underwrite. The new line of attack is that McCain would make drastic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. The charge combines a Wall Street Journal article with calculations by the Center for American Progress. Here are two new spots:

The McCain campaign is pushing back hard on this approach. They claim the costs will be made up by Medicare and Medicaid "savings," not "cuts." Their campaign held a call to deny the charges, calling it “worst and most sustained distortion of policy in this entire campaign.” Their defense is supported by the fact-checkers, including CNN, CBS ("It's a poorly calculated estimate drawn from a suspect report, and the disputed figures in question don’t represent benefit cuts."), and the NY Times ("Obama campaign’s new television advertisement ... may mischaracterize Mr. McCain’s plan by making assumptions that are stitched together from news reporting and rough back-of-the-envelope calculations by a partisan policy group."). The Obama campaign responded that there's no way to free up this amount of funds without making significant cuts.

Just two and half weeks left.
Brian Rosman