TV spots target health plan

Television commercials urging Nevadans to join an effort to repeal the Democratic health care program are running in Reno.

Among the spots running is an ad featuring former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who urges viewers to sign a petition seeking repeal. Huckabee calls it the “most massive petiton drive the nation has ever seen.”

Critics of the group quickly researched it and said, “Huckabee is working [on the health care repeal project] with a firm notorious for defrauding families facing foreclosure with false promises and predatory fees.” This was a reference to Derek Oberholtzer, who is reportedly working on the repeal campaign and who was targeted by the Federal Trade Commission and the Idaho attorney general for mortgage-related misconduct.

In related news, Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning website of the St. Petersburg Times that checks out claims by politicians, named “government takeover of health care” as the biggest political lie of 2010.

“In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama’s ambitious plan to overhaul America’s health insurance system,” Politifact reported. “Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a ‘government takeover.’ … The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the ‘public option’ concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan. But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn’t let facts get in the way of a great punchline. … Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats’ shellacking in the November elections.”

In 2003, Luntz was in Nevada aiding rightist Republican legislators who tried to stop Gov. Kenny Guinn’s tax program.