Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gardner whiffs on Obamacare ad

Cory Gardner needs to fire the genius who’s mapping his current campaign strategy. The whole “Cory as victim” isn’t playing at all well. What was, I’m sure, conceived as an out-of-the-park home run is actually stinking up the place worse than the Colorado Rockies.

In his latest ad, Gardner looks right into the camera, holds up what looks like to be the day’s mail as delivered to the Gardner farm, and complains that his family’s health insurance has been cancelled because of Obamacare.

Fortunately, the national media isn’t afraid to call you-know-what on his claim. In an interview on CNN, Gardner played the “I want to share my constituents’ pain” card by saying he refuses to use the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. Stephanie Cutler would have none of it. She pointed out that, in fact, poor people – real, honest-to-goodness poor people, not “I wanna be treated kind of like” poor people – can get a pretty good insurance plan for $388 a month. And that’s in Yuma County, where Gardner is from. And there are 11 providers for residents east of I-25 to choose from.

Of course, Gardner can’t get that plan for $388 a month. He’s not really poor. Depending on who you ask, Gardner’s net worth is somewhere between $105,000 (Colorado Independent, 2011) and just north of $130,000 (, 2012.) You might have noticed that’s a sharp upward annual trend at a time when most folks’ incomes had flatlined. I don’t mean to imply that Gardner is wealthy, at least not in the way guys like Jim Vincent, Gordon Sipple and Dick Hoch were wealthy. But by any Yuma County standard, Cory Gardner can darn sure afford a decent health insurance plan that won’t force him to decide between seeing the doctor and buying groceries.

But let’s go back to the whole process that earned Gardner that cancellation letter in the first place. First, he had to turn down a plan all federal employees are eligible for. It’s not a single-payer plan; in fact, it’s not unlike the plan anybody lucky enough to work for a well-funded employer might have. Come to think of it, it’s very much like – no, it’s exactly like – the plans my wife and I both have. I’m thinking a lot of Cory Gardner’s constituents would love to have the plan he turned down.

Second, he had to sign up for a pretty crappy insurance plan in order for it to fail the minimum requirements Obamacare sets down. I wouldn’t be so cynical as to suggest he did it on purpose and then just waited for the letter – no, I’m definitely not suggesting that – but in politics, as in everything, timing is everything, and that letter couldn’t have been timed any better.

Problem is, Gardner’s cancellation letter isn’t doing him any good. Even Faux Snooze, mouthpiece for the far right, admits that Gardner “isn’t getting any traction” with his stage prop letter. That’s because Obamacare is a dead issue. Poor people – that is, people who are actually poor – are starting to get real health insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act and sham health care providers are being forced to offer real coverage or go out of business.

In any event, passing up good family health coverage just to pretend to be poor doesn’t seem like a very smart thing to do. And if Cory Gardner isn’t smart enough to provide real health care coverage for his family, how can we trust him to take care of us?

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