When any White House knows they are a losing a public debate, they turn to sympathetic journalists to try and reframe the debate in a way that is more advantageous to their policy goals. So after consulting with his best White House sources, The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder wrote under the headline How Conservatives Are Blowing Their Chance, Sunday:

“Democrats are beginning to notice that opponents of health care reform have discredited themselves. … The media, being a collection of different megaphones, reported on the town hall meetings in one of two ways, both damaging to Republicans. Either they credulously reported the louder, angrier voices (inherently damaging to Republicans in this case) or they reported on the political architecture of the town hall meetings, which plays down the substance of the protests. … The White House’s goal was to prevent the Blue Dogs from panicking. The swing constituents in these congressional districts aren’t angry Republicans, and the Blue Dogs know this. They’re political independents for whom the sanctity of the process is important.”

So that is the official White House spin. But what is the reality? Two new polls came out yesterday from Gallup and Pew, and both of them show that in direct contradiction to Ambinder’s “analysis”, the townhall protests are, in fact, making political independents more sympathetic to opponents of Obamacare. Pew found that of those Americans following the townhalls, 61%, including 64% of independents, said they think the way people have been protesting is appropriate. And according to Gallup, 34% of independents say the townhalls have made them more sympathetic to opponents of Obamacare, compared to only 23% of independents who say the townhalls have made them less sympathetic. Equally important, Gallup found that more Americans believe the townhall protesters are motivated by their internal beliefs and not stirred up by “political activists” crating “organized opposition.”

In fact, it is the supporters of Obamacare who are resorting to multi-million dollar Astroturf campaigns. Earlier this week Billionaire speculator George Soros pledged $5 million for the cause and any perusal of online bulletin board Craigslist will find hundreds of ads promising $11-16 an hour for “grassroots” campaign jobs supporting Obamacare. And just yesterday Americans for Stable Quality Care (a group largely funded by the pharmaceutical industry but also including the AMA, Families USA, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the SEIU) launched a $12 million television ad campaign in support of the White House plan. This $12 million ad buy is just a small fraction of the $150 million that PhRMA has pledged for advertising and “grassroots activity” to help pass Obama’s plan.

Turning back to the White House spin, Ambinder wrote about the townhalls: “Lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, were being asked to respond to non-sequiturs (would you support a health care reform plan that grows the deficit? Health care grows the deficit right now, so it’s a nonsense question, one that is easy for politicians to answer).” This just shows how out of touch the White House is with the American people. As Gallup‘s Frank Newport reported last week: “The push for healthcare reform is occurring in an environment characterized by high levels of concern about fiscal responsibility, government spending, and the growing federal deficit. … The economy outweighs health care as the most pressing problem facing the country and in Americans’ personal lives.”

At his Portsmouth, New Hampshire pep rally yesterday, President Obama pleaded: “Where we do disagree, let’s disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.” Well here is the reality of what has actually been passed by three separate House committees: Obamacare will be spending $245 billion a year by 2019, increases the budget deficit by $239 billion over that same time frame, and in the out years, according to CBO director Doug Elmendorf “the proposal would probably generate substantial increases in federal budget deficits during the decade beyond the current 10-year budget window.”

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