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Reality Check: What's True, What's Misleading In Obama-Critical Ad

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A new political ad running on WCCO-TV is highly critical of President Barack Obama and the new federal health care law, but the ad's claims that are questionable.

The ad (posted below) is from the group Americans for Prosperity --perhaps the most powerful conservative advocacy group in America.

The group is funded by the philanthropist and oil billionaire David Koch, one of the forces behind the Tea Party.

"President Obama promised us his health care law", says a narrator as the ad begins, before showing the president in his own words speaking to ABC News: "is absolutely not a tax increase."

The ad continues.

"Now we know that's not true. Obama's health care law is actually one of the largest tax increases in history".

Part of this is TRUE.

Obama repeatedly insisted his health care law contained a penalty -- not a tax-- on Americans who refuse to buy insurance.

But when the Supreme Court ruled the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional, it said the penalty was really a tax.

And that's where this ad begins to exaggerate, lumping together every health care tax in ACA, as if everyone will pay.

"Obama's health care law is actually one of the largest tax increases in history", the ad says.


The tax increase for entire ACA is big. It totals $675 billion spread out over 10 years-- from 2012 to 2022. It ranks seventh among recent tax hikes, according to independent fact-checkers like

But as tax hikes go, it's less than tax hikes by Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

The ad concludes: "Shouldn't Obama's priorities have been creating jobs and ending reckless spending? Instead, he focused on a $2 trillion health care takeover, that we have to pay for. How can we afford this tax? We're already struggling."

We've showed you before that it's FALSE to call the health care act a "government takeover." And the impression the tax on families is $2 trillion, or that all of us will pay it, is a DISTORTION.

About 4 million Americans who refuse to buy insurance will be penalized by the government on their tax returns. That represents about 1 percent of the U.S. population.
Starting in 2014, the tax on people who refuse to buy health insurance is $95 or 1 percent of your income.

In 2015, it will be $325 or 2 percent of income.

And in 2016 and after, it will be $695 or 2.5 percent.

Those numbers will add up to real money, but the lion's share of the new taxes will be on taxpayers earning more than $200,000 a year.
They'll get a bump up on Medicare taxes.

There's also a tax on what's called Cadillac health plans -- policies with extra benefits.

And a there will be a tax on companies making medical devices; a number of such companies operate in Minnesota.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check.

Americans for Prosperity

AFP ad

Joint Committee on Taxation

US Supreme Court Health Care Decision

CBO Health Care Cost Estimates

Government Takeover

Health Care Taxes


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