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August 21 2013

Newest ObamaCare Salesmen: Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox

Patrice J. Lee

What do a big blue ox, #winning and Matt Sheehy have in common? They are all ploys to get you to buy into ObamaCare.

ObamaCare-friendly states are starting to launch ad campaigns that get out the word about their state health care exchanges in time for the October 1 enrollment start date. Instead using facts and figures to explain the real costs, some states are tapping celebrities and historical icons to lightheartedly tout the benefits of free and subsidized healthcare. Perhaps, numbers like the expected double –and in some cases triple- digit spikes in insurance costs that many Americans will face just aren’t interesting enough for TV. Go figure!

Minnesota spent $9 million on an ad campaign featuring iconic and fictional figures Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe as injury-riddled residents who need medical care. And guess who comes to the rescue: ObamaCare. The campaign aims to get 1.3 million Minnesotans signed up.


Not everyone thinks this ad campaign is clever or an efficient use of tax-payer dollars. In fact, a local mayor finds the use of Bunyan “offensive” and damaging to his image.

Playing off the popular theme “New York State of Mind”, New York rolled out its exchange with a new name and branding: New York State of Health. It features regular people in various parts of the state and from diverse ethnicities and lifestyles with messaging about how everyone deserves healthcare. I’m surprised they didn’t rip off the Jay-Z and Alicia Keyes hit “Empire State of Mind” to target the younger demographic, but let’s not give them anymore ideas. New York plans to spend $40.2 million on advertising and marketing over the next couple of years.

Earlier this month, Oregon launched its $16.6 million marketing campaign. One ad featured a local musician Matt Sheehy singing “Long Live Oregonians” as he walks along the shores of lakes and rivers, through woods and small towns around the state.

Colorado probably takes the cake for most ridiculous. Commercials feature people doing mundane tasks being magically transformed into champions winning at a horse race or casino or the World Series with a slogan about them winning when health insurance providers compete.

That’s a little disingenuous as the real goal is not about free market competition of health care providers, but the government forcing all of us to have government-approved healthcare insurance policies or be penalized and adding its public option (which will undoubtedly become another entitlement program) to the mix. That’s not really #winning if you’re a Colorado resident or an American.

Twenty-one million to $16 million, $40 million and $9 million are fractions of state budgets or the allotted federal funding for ObamaCare. However they are not negligible amounts. I wonder if Americans wouldn’t want their tax dollars going to other causes or back into their own pockets. Is this really the most efficient use of our tax dollars?

How many literacy programs could be funded in Minnesota with $9 million? How many more beds could be provided for homeless and transitioning New York families with $41 million? How many drug rehab counselors could be hired to help Oregon teens get off of meth with $16?

ObamaCare is philosophically and economically troubling. It’s a major expansion of government into the domain of private industry. It’s driving higher costs for families and greater unemployment or underemployment of American workers.  It’s eroding of our freedom and choice over our bodies. It is also proving to be inefficient and fraught with damaging unintended consequences. Perhaps as Americans we should also start counting up the opportunity costs –what we’ve forgone- in pursuit of this sweeping legislation.

A big blue ox with a booboo may look funny, but our loss of freedom is no laughing matter.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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