Obama's New Ads Fail Scutiny and Honesty Tests

[NOTE: I am combining two articles I wrote today for this blog's two-per-day diary restrictions.  Both are on Obama's new ads, one about lobbying, the other about health care plans.]

PAID LOBBYISTS CONFLICT WITH OBAMA'S SPIN

[In a new ad] titled "Listening," Obama says he is "in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over."

He goes on to claim "I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists-and I have won." -- The Baltimore Sun's blog, The Swamp.

Uh huh. Yeah, right. Here's a reality check:"ABC News reports that an ad the Obama campaign released yesterday on lobbying reform excised a quote in which 'Obama promised to ban lobbyists from working in his White House -- a pledge the Illinois Democrat seemed to have backed off from earlier this month'." (TPM) Also check out, "ABC News: Obama Ad Omits Lobbyist Reference." Then there's the just-posted report from the NYT's The Caucus that a month after Obama promised there'd be NO lobbyists in his White House, "he later amended his position, saying that lobbyists would not 'dominate' his White House."

History Can Be a Bitch: "Barack Obama may be talking the talk on the campaign trail as he attacks special interests and lobbyists in Washington,"noted ABC News's The Blotter in July, "but last year Senator Obama introduced bills-at the request of lobbyists-that would save foreign companies millions in customs fees and duties."

Then There's Reality, Again, Chomping Up Those Fine Words:  There are "Lobbyists on Obama's '08 payroll,"reportsThe Hill. "Three political aides on Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) payroll were registered lobbyists for dozens of corporations, including Wal-Mart, British Petroleum and Lockheed Martin, while they received payments from his campaign, according to public documents." That's right. Obama has paid lobbyists who are "double dipping" while his campaign tries to deny it.

No wonder Obama excised his remarks from a speech used in the new TV ads:

A new television ad released Friday by the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., uses excerpts from a well-received November speech by the candidate in which he attacked corporate lobbyists.

But the campaign notably excised from the excerpt one mid-sentence clause in which Obama promised to ban lobbyists from working in his White House -- a pledge the Illinois Democrat seemed to have backed off from earlier this month.

The ommission, first reported by ABC News Saturday morning, provided an opportunity for Obama's rival, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., to make that very pledge to ban lobbyists from working in his White House on Saturday afternoon.

The Obama campaign insisted the cut was made purely for time, and not because the senator had been called out on over-reaching rhetoric.

"It was a 30-minute speech and a 60-second ad, so of course we had to make cuts," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said. "Sen. Obama has the strongest record and the furthest reaching proposals when it comes to curbing the influence of special interests and lobbyists of any candidate in this race."

By making that cut, however, the Obama campaign, in the last week before the crucial Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, risks focusing attention on an issue that can be used to portray the senator as just another politician.

After the ommission was reported on ABCNews.com, Edwards pounced. Sensing an opportunity to differentiate himself from Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and in particular from Obama, with whom he is competing for Iowa caucus-goers, Edwards called a press conference in which he made the pledge Obama seemed to have backed away from. ... Read all at ABC News.

John Edwards is having too much fun with this.  See also the new post at the NYT blog.

Edwards' fun aside, Obama and Axelrod are doing a lot of explainin'.

::::::::::::::::::::::

OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE ADS FAIL SCRUTINY AND HONESTY TESTS

Obama's new health care commercial, running in Iowa, "misrepresents some newspaper assessments of the Illinois Democrat's proposal," reveals a careful analysis in the WaPo, "Incomplete Picture in New Obama Health Care Ad." Here are a couple examples:

The ad says the Obama plan "guarantees coverage for all Americans." But the on-screen citation -- from the St. Paul Pioneer Press -- is truncated in a questionable way in comparing the proposal to those offered by Sen. Hillary Clinton and former senator John Edwards. The full quote reads: "Edwards and Clinton would require all Americans to have health insurance. Obama's plan guarantees coverage for all Americans but does not require all to have it." [...]

The ad says the Obama plan "guarantees coverage for all Americans." But the on-screen citation -- from the St. Paul Pioneer Press -- is truncated in a questionable way in comparing the proposal to those offered by Sen. Hillary Clinton and former senator John Edwards. The full quote reads: "Edwards and Clinton would require all Americans to have health insurance. Obama's plan guarantees coverage for all Americans but does not require all to have it." (Read all examples of inaccuracies in the ad.)

Worse, Obama has resorted to robocalling with an ethically iffy,factually dishonest script narrated by a doctor in Ames, Iowa, who has the "audacity" to say that, "Barack Obama's plan will cover everyone." Which it won't. Every single analyst who has looked at Obama's plan knows his plan does not cover all people, only children -- Obama's plan leaves out 15,000,000 people.  All experts also say that if a plan doesn't cover everyone, it'll cost too much. Ask Paul Krugman:

Imagine this: It's the summer of 2009, and President Barack Obama is about to unveil his plan for universal health care. But his health policy experts have done the math, and they've concluded that the plan really needs to include a requirement that everyone have health insurance -- a so-called mandate.

Without a mandate, they find, the plan will fall far short of universal coverage. Worse yet, without a mandate health insurance will be much more expensive than it should be for those who do choose to buy it.

But Mr. Obama knows that if he tries to include a mandate in the plan, he'll face a barrage of misleading attacks from conservatives who oppose universal health care in any form. And he'll have trouble responding -- because he made the very same misleading attacks on Hillary Clinton and John Edwards during the race for the Democratic nomination. ... Read all of "The Mandate Muddle" by Paul Krugman, NYTimes columnist and economics professor.

Taylor Marsh has much more on the robocalls.

The New Republic's The Plank blog pointed out the 15,000,000-person deficiency in Sen. Obama's planin March of 2007.  Dr. Krugman wrote that column on December 7.

Shamelessly, Obama is still spreading falsehoods about his plan, and smearing Edwards' and Clinton's plans, on December 30.  And with robocalls.

Spreading the same falsehoods this late in the game, against both Edwards and Clinton, is a sign of desperation.

Why desperation?  Taylor Marsh has some great insights and observations about recent polling and trends: "Maybe that's why when you look at things as they stand right now, Edwards is rising, as is Clinton, but Obama has taken a decided downturn. As Obama has gotten more scrutiny lately, he's just not wearing all that well ..." Read all of "IOWA: Obama Down, Edwards Rises."

Tags: Barack Obama, Health care, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, lobbying, Lobbyists (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

3 new ads in 2 days from Camp Obama

That spells trouble for Obama with a capital 'T'.

They are either message testing via phone, or focus group testing and not getting responses they like.

They are in a tailspin, they rush a new ad up only to find it isn't pushing the right buttons and they try again.

Obama has to feel like he is running in his barefeet in sand, as Edwards and Clinton sprint away from him in their Nikes on hard pavement.

Bubbye Barry.

by dpANDREWS 2007-12-29 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: 3 new ads in 2 days from Camp Obama

That's what I sense too.  Fear.  Worry.  Ugh -- robocalling.  Nobody likes getting those!  As the front-pagers here astutely noted, he peaked early and that's as high as he can go.  'course, it all depends, in Iowa, who makes it to the caucuses -- we have that system in Washington state, and it's a bitch to organize for.

(Speaking of which, did you all see the NYT piece today on the incredible level of organizing by each campaign?  I thought the Dean campaign was strong in organizing, at least in Wash. state, but Sen. Clinton's campaign organization skills in Iowa blow me awawy.)

by susanhu 2007-12-29 07:35PM | 0 recs
by dpANDREWS 2007-12-29 07:40PM | 0 recs
Yep, these aren't signs...

Of a confident campaign. Perhaps Obama's campaign is freaking out over those internal polls? ;-)

No really, thanks for yet another great diary! It's always good to see you here, giving us the straight scoop on what's happening on the campaign trail.

by atdleft 2007-12-29 07:42PM | 0 recs
Yeah, try quicksand...

It seems like Obama's really sinking in it. He keeps putting his foot in his mouth, whether it's on spouting out another lie on his NOT universal health care plan or defending his BFF Axelrod's silly accusation of Hillary being an "accessory to homicide". This is obviously NOT a campaign that's confident about their position in the early states. If Obama keeps stumbling over himself, I wouldn't be surprised if he finishes 3rd in Iowa.

by atdleft 2007-12-29 07:39PM | 0 recs
Lobbyist?

No wonder he is losing.

I dare any one to go door to door in Iowa and fins out where concern over lobbyists stacks up.   Is that even in the top 20 on everyday people list of important issues?

by dpANDREWS 2007-12-29 07:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's New Ads Fail Scutiny and Honesty Tests

December 28, 2007
"The AFSCME website contains factually inaccurate information concerning Barack Obama's health care proposal and misrepresents the likely effects of his plan to provide health care coverage for all Americans. Obama's proposal is the most comprehensive and aggressive of any candidate running for President, Democrat or Republican. In this critical period, Americans should be getting the straight facts about their candidates' health care positions, not misleading attacks that obscure the reality that all Democratic candidates are united in their commitment to protecting all Americans against the cost of illness."

David Blumenthal, physician and Samuel O. Thier Professor of Medicine and Professor of Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

David Cutler, Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics at Harvard University

by igwealth5tm 2007-12-29 07:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's New Ads Fail Scutiny and Honesty Tests

One would think a candidate who is ostensibly committed to reformation of the American political process would refuse to campaign on falsehoods days before the election.  

I hope everyone meditates on the significance of this and other gestures: he is lying to the voters of Iowa; and he lied on national television.  

by truthteller2007 2007-12-29 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's New Ads Fail Scutiny and Honesty Tests

wow, another anti-Obama diary.

thats surprising...

by Jim Engler 2007-12-29 09:28PM | 0 recs
The Hypocrisy of the Edwards Supporters is Beyond

The Hypocrisy of the Edwards Supporters is Beyond Me.

97 year woman who has never ever given to a cmapign before suddenly supplies half a million to Edwards--Suprise her leagal advisr and power of attorney is best friends with Edwards...This is so so ethical....

Mellon-linked contribution "questionable"

$495,000 contribution to the pro-Edwards 527 from a company linked to the heiress Rachel Mellon, a 87 woman who has never given to a campaign befroe--but wait her legal counselor is best friend with Edwards....

I'm eager to see what the lawyer whose name is connected to the trust, and who also holds power of attorney for the 97-year old Mellon, Alex Forger, has to say about, or to see some comment from Mellon or someone close to her; so far, I haven't been able to reach any of them.

(Immediate entertaining note: Edwards drops the Mellons from his list of malign plutocrats, leaving only the (now also quite liberal) Rockefellers.)

In the meantime, though, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe has an email out that appears to raise questions about the appropriateness of the donation. It also seems to approach making direct allegations against Forger, an Edwards supporter in his own right, which seems -- even legally speaking, though I'd be interested in what lawyers among my readers think -- a bit risky.

Plouffe's memo calls the donation "questionable," echoing an anonymous Obama aide in the L.A. Times.

   In their most recent financial disclosure, the Alliance for New America revealed that they had raised $495,000 from Oak Springs Farms, LLC. Oak Springs is funded through the assets of Rachel Mellon, who is 97-years old. According to the available records, which go back to 1980, she has never donated to a political candidate until a contribution was made in her name to John Edwards this year. Mellon's involvement in the decision to donate to the Edwards campaign is unknown. The Washington Post reported yesterday that Alexander Forger, who has power for attorney for Mrs. Mellon, is a major supporter of John Edwards' candidacy.

   Crain's Business Journal reported in February that Forger and "a group of prominent New York lawyers" hosted a fund-raiser for Edwards at Essex House -- the Central Park South address where his office is located. Forger has also personally donated $4,600 to Edwards' campaign, according to FEC records. This is not the first time Forger has used Oak Springs Farms to support Edwards; in 2006, he made a $250,000 contribution to Edwards' One America 527 group.

The 2006 story that linked Oak Farm Springs to Mellon quotes Forger saying it wasn't his money, or his company. And there's no evidence that Mellon isn't spending her own money, though she would probably be the oldest soft-money titan of the cycle.

Entertaining immediate impact: Edwards drops Andrew Mellon from his litany of robber-barrons.

TO: Interested Parties

FR: David Plouffe, Campaign Manager, Obama for America

RE: Flood of Washington Money In Iowa

DA: December 29, 2007

Heading into the final stretch before the Iowa caucuses, millions of dollars in third party spending are pouring into the state in an unprecedented attempt to benefit the campaigns of John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. For Clinton, AFSCME, EMILY's List and the AFT have spent over $2.6 million to assist her campaign - even as AFSCME attacks Obama for a position on health care mandates that they themselves have. The groups supporting Edwards have spent over $2 million including efforts organized by one "independent" organization run by one of Edwards' highest-ranking political aides which newspapers reported today received a questionable 11th-hour donation of $495,000 just days ago.

We have both the financial and organizational resources to compete aggressively in all four early states and through February 5th. However, there is no doubt that the size of the spending and its underhanded nature deserve further scrutiny.

John Edwards

John Edwards, who is running in large part on a recently adopted campaign platform of taking on the big corporate interests in Washington, is relying on a former aide to run an unregulated 527 operating outside campaign finance limits to support his candidacy. Even as he was decrying such influence last week, his former campaign manager was spending $750,000 on television ads in Iowa. If Edwards can't stand up to his own former aides how can stand up to the special interests in Washington?

Nick Baldick, who ran his campaign in 2004 and was on the campaign's payroll as recently as June, is now running Alliance for a New America. The Alliance for a New America has spent $1.5 million to help Edwards in Iowa, while the group Working for Working Americans, funded by the Carpenters Union, has spent more than $500,000 supporting Edwards, bringing the total spent on his behalf in Iowa to $2 million.

In their most recent financial disclosure, the Alliance for New America revealed that they had raised $495,000 from Oak Springs Farms, LLC. Oak Springs is funded through the assets of Rachel Mellon, who is 97-years old. According to the available records, which go back to 1980, she has never donated to a political candidate until a contribution was made in her name to John Edwards this year. Mellon's involvement in the decision to donate to the Edwards campaign is unknown. The Washington Post reported yesterday that Alexander Forger, who has power for attorney for Mrs. Mellon, is a major supporter of John Edwards' candidacy. Crain's Business Journal reported in February that Forger and "a group of prominent New York lawyers" hosted a fund-raiser for Edwards at Essex House -- the Central Park South address where his office is located. Forger has also personally donated $4,600 to Edwards' campaign, according to FEC records. This is not the first time Forger has used Oak Springs Farms to support Edwards; in 2006, he made a $250,000 contribution to Edwards' One America 527 group.

While Edwards has said he doesn't want this group to run ads, he has not called his former employee and friend and asked him not run these ads. And according to the New York Times, this group was started after consultations with Edwards' campaign manager and other senior members of the campaign.

These latest revelations make it clear why Edwards was able to announce that he could accept public funds while still spending all he needed to spend in Iowa. His campaign simply exploited the biggest loophole in the campaign finance system in order to get public matching funds while arranging through allies to benefit from a 527. That's how they avoided the spending limits that are a condition of the public matching funds.

When John Edwards applied for matching funds, he agreed to spending limits in return for the public money he is now receiving. But at that time, the Edwards campaign was actively involved in discussions about the establishment of an "independent" 527 effort, to be conducted outside the federal financing requirements. Members of the SEIU, which is funding the 527 that has spent the vast majority of the money in IA on his behalf, described consultations with senior Edwards staff and a visit to the campaign in Iowa, all intended to assure that the project delivered "the specific sort of support they'd [the Edwards campaign] like to see from us."

Within weeks, the Alliance for a New America, a 527 group organized just to boost Edwards' last-minute media spending in Iowa, came into existence. The group portrays itself as an issue advertising group, able to operate outside the legal restrictions of the federal campaign finance laws. Its goal is to help Edwards, who is specifically promoted in its advertising. Consistent with the close coordination envisioned by the planners, key individuals involved in this organization and steering its activities are close associates of the Edwards campaign.

Hillary Clinton

Of all of the candidates and interests groups participating in this campaign, the American Federal State County Municipal union (AFSCME) is running perhaps the most negative and misleading campaign. To date, they have spent $1.3 million on radio ads and direct mail - with over $300,000 spent on negative ads targeting Obama - and are reportedly readying a negative television campaign against Obama.

The ads have mischaracterized Obama's universal health care plan. AFSCME has attacked Obama's plan for not including an individual mandate, when it is the official position of AFSCME to oppose an individual mandate. The President of AFSCME testified at a Congressional hearing in 2006 that "we are concerned with the direction reform efforts have taken in some states. For example, the Massachusetts reform model attempts to achieve near universal coverage through the use of individual mandates."

Clinton also has benefitted by spending from Emily's List and the AFT, who have spent $485,777.43 and $799,618.59 respectively on her behalf.

This unprecedented level of outside spending could impact the outcome in Iowa and New Hampshire, and we believe voters in these states deserve to know exactly how much is being spent, where it's coming from, and who's benefiting.

TOTALS

CLINTON

AFSCME: $1,333,456.96 (includes $309,545.60 explicitly against Obama)

AFT: $799,618.59

Emily's List: $485,777.43

Total: $2,618,852.98

EDWARDS

Working for Working Americans/Carpenters: $526,440.76

Alliance for a New America (SEIU): $1,530,411.77 (this includes $769,000 that has not formally posted)

Democratic Courage: $20,410.00

Total: $2,077,262.53

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1 207/Plouffe_Mellonlinked_contribution_qu estionable.html

by aiko 2007-12-30 02:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's New Ads Fail Scutiny and Honesty Tests

MORE HYPOCRISY:

Washington periodical The Hill digs deeper into the curiously uniform $2,000 contributions Sen. John Edwards' presidential campaign got from so many receptionists, paralegals and other low-level staffers at plaintiff's law firms.  The $2,000 donors include many employees who had not given to candidates or even voted in the past, and others who are listed on the voting rolls as Republicans.  Many spouses and relatives of the staffers likewise contributed the maximum.  Some of the munificent staffers have recently gone through the kind of personal financial reverses -- bankruptcy filings, for example -- which would not seem to correlate in the natural order of things with having a large available checkbook for political donations.  "In many instances, all the checks from a given firm arrived on the same day -- from partners, attorneys, and other support staff."  Employees denied that their law-firm employers had signaled any willingness to reimburse the donations, which would constitute a violation of federal law.  (Sam Dealey, "Donations to Sen. Edwards questioned", The Hill, May 7).

by aiko 2007-12-30 03:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's New Ads Fail Scutiny and Honesty Tests

Devastating stuff susanhu. I'm starting to really believe what others have been saying, Obama is in big trouble.

by lonnette33 2007-12-30 04:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's New Ads Fail Scutiny and Honesty Tests

Do you have anything at all good to say about Obama? As far as I can tell, everything you have written to date is not proHillary, but antiObama.

This time it is "on Obama's new ads, one about lobbying, the other about health care plans."

Hillary's health care plan show a distinct capitulation to the corporations, unlike her 90s effort which would have created a government sponsored program.

Hillary is unquestionably REPUBLICAN LITE this time around, and anyone who wants a continuation of Bush proCorporate policies should vote for her. I for one believe that the Democrats stand for a liberal-socialist program like those in every other western industrialized nation, the entire EU and the other English speaking countries.

ProCorporatism is Hillary's new face, a distinctly DLC right wing stance.

by shergald 2007-12-30 05:01AM | 0 recs
You people never cease to amaze me

How ANYONE who supports Hillary could try and impugn another candidate's honesty and supposed corruptibility is beyond me.

Bill and Hillary SOLD presidential pardons. That is not in dispute.

They were willing to flex constitutionally protected presidential power in exchange for money. No one else in recent history as had to return as much money in the form of political "donations" from illegal sources as Hillary/Bill. That alone disqualifies her from being president.

by highgrade 2007-12-30 07:19AM | 0 recs

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