Young: Koch brothers vs. ‘mute’ button
April 29, 2014
Across the nation, in congressional district after congressional district, state after state, the race has begun — the race between viewers' thumbs and the Koch brothers' pitch.
In most cases, the thumbs win — find "mute" — before David and Charles Koch can tell them what a disaster the Affordable Care Act is and just who is responsible.
In Colorado, the brothers are pointing the finger at Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.
An Americans for Prosperity ad last week showed a black-and-white photo of Udall and President Obama sharing a microphone — both tie-less, glum, clearly spent. The words "Voted for Obamacare" were pinned to the senator's collar.
Why so glum, Marx Bros? Socialist designs gone awry?
It turned out that the senator and the president had another reason to feel spent. They had met with families of the 12 dead and 58 wounded when a maniac with a mail-order arsenal shot up an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.
Americans for Prosperity pulled the ad when families of the victims expressed their outrage.
Thinking of this, I imagined the young Republican up-and-comer who compiled this ad, his face bathed in the green glow of his laptop, licking his lips at a pathetic "gotcha" pose from two chosen targets.
It goes beyond callous, beyond deceitful, all the way to sinister. But that feel has been almost palpable ever since Obama became president. Some Americans are literally crazed with hatred.
Right, Koch Bros?
Yes, once again the billionaire industrialists are spending great gobs to influence your vote.
Partnering with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers were among the biggest of the big spenders in 2012 in an election that saw $8 billion spent to influence the vote, though in the end it didn't even nudge the needle in Mitt Romney's favor.
Adelson pledged $100 million to defeat Obama. It's unclear how much the Koch brothers spent. Newsweek reports that the Koch "dark money network" raised $407 million.
With that horrific Colorado ad in mind, this election season the Koches are modeling just exactly what the term "sore loser" looks like.
It would be misleading to categorize Americans for Prosperity as a one-trick Republican mount. It is in fact an agile octopus — with a feel for everything that advances a right-wing notion, whether it involves textbook purchases in Texas or tax policy in name-your-state.
But election year is when this slippery cephalopod really shines, or slimes, as it were.
As such, Americans for Prosperity has kept the nation's fact checkers busy.
An ad targeting Arizona Democrat Ron Barber says the ACA "means higher costs for struggling families." That may happen in some instances where policies were canceled and the family had to purchase anew under the ACA.
However, as Factcheck.org explains, with millions of uninsured families gaining coverage under the law, the Congressional Budget Office projects 25 million fewer uninsured Americans as early as 2016.
We cannot know how many people who had to switch were forced to take more expensive options under ACA, but we do know that if those instances are plentiful, Americans for Prosperity, with its bank account and its agile tentacles, hasn't found them.
If it did, it wouldn't have featured a Michigan woman who blamed the ACA for the loss of coverage and said the federally enabled option was unaffordable, an example of how "Obamacare is destroying the middle class." Factcheck.org found that the Michigan family "could have selected a cheaper exchange plan, as opposed to the unsubsidized private plan it chose, but the family did not want the children to be on the Children's Health Insurance Program."
We all have to ask: If the Affordable Care Act really is destroying American dreams, why can't the Koch brothers, with all their video- and photo-editing means, find one example to convince us all?
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.
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