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President George W. Bush signs the Medicare Modernization Act with Congress people watching.
President George W. Bush signs the Medicare Modernization Act,
kicking off a real propaganda campaign. (Reuters)
How much taxpayer money did President George W. Bush request to fund an advertising campaign to tout the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), the big giveaway to drug makers and insurance companies? At least $154.3 million. How was that money spent?
[A]n investigation by the Government Accountability Office and HHS’s own inspector General concluded that the federally funded campaign was “misleading” and “may also have illegally used public money to make what in effect were fake news reports about the law that did amount to propaganda.” (emphasis mine)
Why does this matter now? Because the Obama administration has signed a $20 millon contract with a public relations firm to create materials informing and educating people about how to stay healthy and how the Affordable Care Act can help. As Think Progress's Igor Volsky writes, the dimwit Right is having a major hissy fit about it.
– SARAH PALIN: “This is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard coming out of the Obama administration. Not only is this, of course, pending in court, and I think it will be deemed unconstitutional, but this is a propaganda piece, which I think violates many of the procurement laws and other laws applicable to government contracts. This is propaganda. It’s just promoting ‘ObamaCare.’” [Fox News, 5/22/2012]

– SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): “Outrageous waste of taxpayer $ to promote #Obamacare – ‘HHS signs $20M PR contract to promote healthcare law’ [Twitter, 5/22/2012]

– SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): “It’s unacceptable that Pres Obama intends to waste $20M on the taxpayer’s dime to sell U.S. on unpopular #ObamaCare” [Twitter, 5/22/2012]

– SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): “$20M for marketing #ObamaCare? This is a wasteful & inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars.” [Twitter, 5/22/2012] (emphasis in original)

For the record: fake news reports = propaganda; a "multimedia ad campaign" = advertising. That's a distinction Palin would be too dumb to understand and McCain too duplicitous to acknowledge. Nonetheless, let's just reiterate the facts. What Bush did was probably illegal use of taxpayer money. The GAO said so. What Obama is doing is simple advertising.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed May 23, 2012 at 09:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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