This Is Your President Asking: Won't You Please Donate for Obamacare?
Around the State
Want to donate to help Barack Obama roll out his health care plan? He's got the tin cup out and he's shaking it in Tallahassee -- and elsewhere in Florida and across the nation.
Maybe you got one of his begging letters, too.
He wants you to show your gratitude for that bargain of an Obamacare premium you just signed up for. Prove your citizenship. C'mon, America, be a good sport -- your federal government needs more of your money to get health care to work.
Where does this come from?
The good news is, the president only needs six more donations from Tallahassee. In West Palm Beach, it's only two. It may be a different number in your town. The point is, Neeti tells us, "I'm staring down a budget that needs your help today."
I'm trying to remember my American History 101. For the life of me, I can't recall reading that Franklin D. Roosevelt, after the launch of any of his New Deal projects in the 1930s, felt the need to pump Americans for donations. With the exception of World War I and its sale of Liberty Bonds and World War II with war bonds, Obama's arrogant, almost regal pitch for charity for the Affordable Care Act -- a law of stunning bipartisan unpopularity "as is" -- may be unprecedented in the last 100 years.
Says the Organizing for Action email:
"Chip in $5 or more today, and help fund OFA's big last push for health care.
"Our strategy here is aggressive, because that's what it's going to take to make sure Americans without insurance know what it takes to get covered.
"We spent the last few months gearing up -- hiring staff, recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers, and training grassroots organizers to go all in over the next 19 days."
Organizing for Action is the same White House-backed political nonprofit that was recently exposed by NBC News for its quid pro quo dealings.
Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan group that advocates for campaign reform, told the president in a letter that the NBC disclosures suggest OFA “has been selling direct access to you and to your White House in return for huge contributions.” Read about it here.
The OFA turned into a dark-money nonprofit in 2013. Following another successful electoral campaign, the Obama for America machinery, with its troves of data desired by practically every Democratic candidate in the country, sought a new home. The group transformed itself into the 501(c)(4) nonprofit Organizing for Action. OFA took over the “barackobama.com” Web address as well as assuming control of the campaign’s vast computer database. It's the exact type of dark money group the president lambasted during his 2012 re-election.
It may have become a bit trite, even if true, to mock the president for his repeated hypocrisy on the issue, but the transformation of his campaign organization into a nonprofit relying on voluntary disclosure -- the group does disclose its donors, but only as it sees fit -- solidified that hypocrisy for many advocates of openness and campaign finance reform.
It is chaired by none other than Jim Messina, the president’s former campaign manager, who bills it as a “grassroots advocacy” group on behalf of the president’s agenda. The group has raised $26 million -- in part through appearances by the president at events that include volunteers and high-dollar donors.
Maybe Obama's pitch for our pennies is an attempt at a show of confidence, a backhanded effort to prove Obamacare is pretty popular after all, because look how much money Americans gave to dig it out of a hole. Or maybe not a dime of the proceeds is going to Obamacare. After all, the Affordable Care Act is, as Democrats like to point out, "the law of the land." Money is, and has been, available from the start to sign people up.
Maybe it's just that so few are.
With all due respect, Neeti and Mr. President, I'll pass on your solicitation.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.