Spending Taxpayers' Money to Promote Obama's Agenda
Buying ads to promote Obamacare on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
8:00 AM, Jan 6, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
As I reported on Monday, the Obama administration is paying taxpayer money to Google, Yahoo!, and Bing so that, when Americans search for "Obamacare" (and a whole host of other entries, the first listing that comes up (or the first listing after "Stories" on Yahoo!) is the administration's own health care web site, www.healthcare.gov -- which gushes about the "merits" of the highly unpopular health care "reform."
On Tuesday, I reported that the ad appeared to have been pulled off of Google, but it turns out, according to an HHS official -- via Politico's Ben Smith -- that the ad's maximum daily allotment of (your) money had merely been hit. The paid listing is back up today, and now appears again on all three search engines (although it doesn't always come up on all computers, at least for Google), and the administration apparently has no plans to stop using taxpayer money to promote Obamacare in this manner any time soon.
This is both shocking (in a general sense) and par for the course (for this administration). After all, the Obama administration is brazen enough to use taxpayers' money to run TV commercials to try to convince seniors that looting money from Medicare and spending it on Obamacare deserves their support because it will "strengthen" Medicare. Actually, the ads aren't even as genuine as that; rather, they try to make it sound like Obamacare is funneling more money into Medicare instead of siphoning it out.
In truth, according to the Congressional Budget Office, to help finance more than $2 trillion in new federal spending in its real first decade (2014 to 2023), Obamacare would cut Medicare spending by almost $1 trillion. About a quarter of those cuts would be to the popular Medicare Advantage program, and most of the other three-quarters would be cuts in payments to Medicare providers -- which would plainly jeopardize Medicare beneficiaries' access to care.
There is a simple principle here that the Obama administration seems unable to grasp: Don’t spend taxpayers’ money to promote your own political agenda. Of course, members of this administration generally prefer not to think in terms of a stark separation between your money and their money, or between public information ("Medicare enrollment begins on November 15th") and politicized speech ("Look at these great new benefits you'll get under the health-reform law!"). A basic tenet of this administration is that such distinctions are bygones of another age -- of an age of limited, constitutional government.
Both the TV and search-engine ads might not be legal and are certainly not justifiable. But, then, this is an administration that empowers "czars" to skirt the Senate confirmation process; that relies on recess appointments to further skirt that process; that vests truly massive amounts of de facto lawmaking power in the hands of unelected officials; and that picks judges who it believes will also act as de facto lawmakers. Firm and unquestionable adherence to legal forms, the separation of powers, and the distinction between public and private, is not this administration's forte.