November 6th, 2009
07:20 PM ET
11 years ago

First on the Ticker: Health reform critics saturate TV airwaves

Washington (CNN) – Opponents of President Obama’s approach to health care reform have outspent supporters by more than $7 million in the past 30 days in what has become the most expensive one year, single issue advocacy campaign on television in the nation’s history.

So far, more than $151 million has been spent in 2009 on TV ads by organizations promoting, opposing or simply weighing in on the health care debate, according to an exclusive analysis conducted for CNN by TNSMI-Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).

Supporters of Obama’s approach to health care reform began airing TV commercials earlier in the year than opponents and account for $61 million, while opponents have spent $52.3 million and groups with an interest in the debate but not advocating a position have dedicated $38 million.

In the past 30 days, supporters of Obama's approach to health care reform spent nearly $12 million on TV ads while opponents countered with $19.1 million.

“We are starting to see a separation in the messaging,” said Evan Tracey, president of CMAG and CNN’s consultant on political television advertising. “Groups that are opposed to President Obama’s health care plan are starting to turn up the volume in key states to put pressure on lawmakers to vote against these bills.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent a whopping $1.5 million alone to air an ad linking the depressed economy to the health care debate in cities stretching from Juneau, Alaska, to Roanoke, Virginia.

“This advertising is turning very gray in terms of the senior voters they are targeting and the mood of the electorate who are pessimistic about the economy,” said Tracey.

Americans for Stable Quality Care, a coalition of health care interest and liberal advocacy groups, spent more than $8.2 million over the past month on commercials to lead the spending in support of Obama’s approach to reform. The Chamber spent $9.7 million on TV ads, while America’s Health Insurance Plans, an association of insurers, dedicated $5.5 million to commercials during this same 30 day time period.

The House is meeting for a rare weekend session as the Democratic majority tries to pass a health care bill.

“The Chamber ad combined with a lot of weekend news coverage of the new unemployment numbers is going to be a potential one-two punch as House Democrats try to pass a health care reform bill,” Tracey said.

Tracey is referring to news Friday that the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent, the highest it has been since 1983.

Follow Mark Preston on Twitter @PrestonCNN

Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. sue

    americans, i thought you had the smartest people on earth. open your eyes, instead of rethus and company spending a whole lot of money on opposing healthcare reform, pay for treatment for people who need surgeries, cancer patients, who do not have insurance. pay for me. i need medical help, i dont have insurance. yes am an american citizen. all this rebupblican leaders have insurance, good insurance. their followers, not so lucky. open your eyes fellow americans. last administration left a deficit. it didnt help anyone. you say the healthcare will raise the deficit. if it so happens, at least it will hapen for a course. stop fooling yourselfs anymore rethugs. the whole world is watching your stupidity. you dont care about the health of your citizens! lord have mercy!

    November 6, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  2. Thomas5

    It's Bush's fault, right?


    November 6, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  3. JES

    Where is the money coming from.

    I know we continue to talk about having health care for everyone, but doesn't about 85-90% already have health care.

    Find the money by stop giving yourself raises and start doing you job and like here what the people are saying nore more taxes.

    Can you name any elected official who has read the bill not someone else but you.

    November 6, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  4. Kate in SW Fla

    What opponents are lying about, is theri culpability IN the unemployment mess. These health care costs are costing jobs. Our industries can not complete. We NEED this reform, and it is pathetic to allow a handful of greedy, lying CEOs defeat it. Doctors want it, Nurses want it, Pharma wants it, Hospitals want it, the AMA supports it, AARP supports it. The only poeple who oppose it are the Insurance Industries and the Republicans. And I hate them both.

    November 6, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  5. Ryan

    Let's clarify what has been documented ON RECORD:

    "Pelosi's office has said the bill would cut the federal deficit by roughly $30 billion over the next decade. The measure is financed through a combination of a tax surcharge on wealthy Americans and spending constraints in Medicare and Medicaid.
    Specifically, individuals with annual incomes more than $500,000 - as well as families earning more than $1 million - would face a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge. Growth in Medicare expenditures would be cut by 1.3 percent annually. " – CNN

    – –
    So what's the problem people????

    November 6, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. Bob

    How many people could be cared for with this money?

    If they (the insurance industry) can afford this, then they can live along side a public option.

    November 6, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  7. True Reformer

    The US Chamber of Commerce – what a tragic joke! The;y could care less about America. Their interest is solely greed; greed for multinational corporations exploiting foreign labor at the expense of their own customers – the American public.

    November 6, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    They are running the lies like crazy in NC.

    That's another reason to get rid of the republicans next year. It's all lies, fear, negativity.


    November 6, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  9. Mike from Austin

    What ever happened to the idea of compromise? Isn't that what democracy is supposed to be all about? It seems that everyone is so caught up in ideological arguments that people have forgotten the realities in the nation. Sure, I get that people are against abortion, and I respect that – however, should the miniscule chance of an abortion being federally funded preclude the treatment of hundreds of thousands of people who will die otherwise? If your argument is truly "pro life," then shouldn't it include trying to save lives other than those of the unborn? Every day that health care reform is delayed due to rigid ideological arguments is another day that thousands of people die for no good reason. The greatest country on earth should at least be able to reduce deaths due to people not being able to afford the system!

    November 6, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  10. mike holtzinger

    You keep saying the 10.2% unemployment rate is the largest since 1983. WAKE UP, that is 2 years into Reagans Admin, how come you arn't mentioning the fact that Reagan still 9.8% U.E 2 years in to his presidency. Obama-in case you have not noticed has onlt been in office for 9months...No recession has turned around that quick.

    November 6, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  11. Christopher W

    Why are politicians and political interest groups even legally allowed to run these mass media campaigns anyway? I thought the airwaves and print guidelines and rules were decided for the people, by the people. We don't want it, yet it's rammed down our throats despite any attempts to reform. It's obvious that the two party system for such a large and diverse nation has landed us all in "our arses are bought and paid for" situation. Conservatives,please keep up your upstate New York movement nation wide, don't vote Republican, vote Liberatarian, 3rd party, ect..
    Democrats, (You call yourselves progressive?!)
    If this disgusting display lack of backbone by your party that now controls the White house and Congress and has enough votes to actually CHANGE anything, a mandate they were swept to power to do, and STILL CAN'T- then it should be quite obvious to vote for Independent Candidates, vote Green, vote Socialist, ect..
    We are at a point where our very society is failing politically and economically because our system is based on 1780's mechanics of government, WE NEED COALITION GOVERNMENTS OF MULTI PARTY ELECTORATES. If competition breeds results, then we know why America is failing. There is a monopoly of power that has turned our once great nation into the play ground of the multinational super rich who use Wall St as their casino, D.C. as their brokerage firm, and our hard work and blood as their toilet paper. If you declare yourself as a member of either party and not as an Independent, then you do not know the spirit of the original patriots and you are part of the problem. WAKE UP,THIS IS 10 YEARS INTO A NEW CENTURY ALREADY, real change will come wether we're ready or not.

    November 6, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  12. S.Ann

    I think both sides making commercials over health reform need to just stop. We got enough information about it and know what needs to be done. More commercials from both sides means money being wasted...especially on commercials opposing to health reform being meaningless and a scare tactic.

    How can we get out of a horrible economy if we have both sides spending millions and millions on commercials.....commercials people! We have so many people unemployed. $151 million could have helped many people in keeping their houses and getting what's needed. But's spent on TV ads...way to go.

    November 6, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  13. Ray in Nashville

    One thing about this whole health care reform debate, electronic media sales managers and the companies they work for are going to be very sad when it's over, no matter who wins. You might even say the issue itself is a stimulus program for the advertising business.

    November 6, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  14. kettle2

    sure they do they want to protect their stock in the insurance companies and the pharmacutical thing you overlooked though

    The Reformers are also hitting the air waves.......BIG TIME.

    November 6, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  15. Greg, MN

    I am self employed and buy my family insurance myself. We pay $480 a month for $600 deductible plan. My congressman informs me this insurance will be outlawed with this legislation. I will be put in a pool. I had group insurance once. I was pooled with lots of much higher users,

    Why does Affordable Health Care for America mean I will pay more?

    November 6, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  16. Exasperated

    Isn't there a better use for this money?

    November 6, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  17. valwayne

    And all that money is dwarfed by Obama comandeering the networks over and over to sell Obamacare! Obama comandeering all the networks to have press conferences with the sole purpose of promoting Obamacare. Its not anybody's fault that Obama could explain his program in a way that anybody could understand and that nobody belived him when he said $500 billion in medicare cuts would make medicare for the elderly better than ever. We have 10.2% UNEMPLOYMENT and instead of coming up with something besides the corrupt stimulous plan that filled the pockets of the special interest Obama only wants to cram trillions and trillions of additional debt and taxes on us. If He and Nancy Pelsoi force Obamacare on the nation it will hit our economy like 10 million tons of bricks. 10.2% UNEMPLOYMENT will look like the Golden Years!!! What a disaster!!!

    November 6, 2009 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  18. bob in LA

    Don't want health reform? Over 65? Give up Medicare. Got employer coverage? Start paying 100% of the premium yourself and not at group rates. Is your insurnace part of a retirement plan or from your pension? Nope- start paying for it. Are you a vet? Get off the goverment dole.
    People – Get out of the bubble you live in think of others for a change.
    You're not paying for you healthcare- you don't have a say.

    November 6, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  19. Trylon

    This seems a good time to remind Americans that in the 1940s and 1950s millions of dollars were spent to defeat the introduction of universal health care into the social structure of Canadian provinces. Where did that money come from? It came from the medical-industrial complex in the United States, who tried to murder "socialized medicine" on this continent in the crib.

    And, the effort to defeat the contentment of Canadians with their health care system by ticked-off 'Mericans has never fully stopped. Try to imagine the reverse circumstance and then try to stop laughing. This is what Pierre Trudeau meant about "sleeping with an elephant".

    November 6, 2009 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  20. william fitzwater

    They are going to say anything do anything. If critics can fundamentally disable the chances of reform or pervert to suit their interests they Win.
    The problem is congress is bought out on both sides on the issue of reform.

    November 6, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  21. Richp

    First off BOTH parties are talking out of the second pair of cheeks they were born with. This health care bill is nothing but writing to get the best deals for the pharma companies, insurance companies and anyone else who contributes to reelection coffers. Take some doctors, couple of lawyers, few congress shrubs and lock em in a resort on an island somewhere for two weeks, surrounded by marines with orders to shoot to kill any lobbyists that set foot on the island. Maybe, just maybe we might get something worthwhile that won't break the bank. If not then LEAVE IT ALONE.

    November 6, 2009 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  22. Andrea

    Why would you spend lots o' money (multi-millions) on ad agencys for pro or anti-health care commercial ads and not on patients, doctors, clinics and hospitals.? Why? All sides lose. Its weirdly about opinion not quality care–go figure. Really figure all the dollars???

    November 6, 2009 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  23. Charles Sochalec

    President Obama is not concerned about geo-political situations such as the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall. Obama has proved time and time again that his weak point is foreign affairs and diplomacy that impact the United States. He prefers on relying on one of our weakest Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    All President Obama wants to do is focus on his U.S. National Health Plan and nothing else matters as to what happens in the U.S. He wants to be in Washington to make sure the bill gets passed.

    Frankly, Obama is a Socialist leaning towards Communism (like FDR). If Obama, Pelosi and other left wing Democrats had their way, they would change the U.S. Constitution.

    November 6, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  24. Tim Olvera

    Our President has alot on his mind and on his plate. I was always told in school that if a President is elected to two terms his first four years is spent on undoing the previous president. Well enough said. We have enough problems here in our own country, why is Newt Gingrich even opening his mouth. If our President were to leave in an national emergency he would be looked down upon for leaving our nation. Keep up the fight President Obama.

    November 6, 2009 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  25. We Won Get Over It

    They are scared scared scared. If all the money you were bleeding billions and billions from the citizens of this country for health care your pants would be in a bunch too. The insurance companies are scared to death that all that money the CEO's and big shots get for their houses around the world, their boats, their air planes, their fantastic trips, golf and all the other stuff would stop if people didn't have to pay such outrageous for their health insurance.

    November 7, 2009 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
1 2 3