Obama’s aides tout, defend Obamacare comedy pitch

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The White House’s media team tweeted and touted President Barack Obama’s risky use of a mock-interview show to pitch his failing Obamcare plan to young and healthy Americans.

Obama’s scripted sit-down with movie actor Zach Galifianakis, who plays an ignorant and resentful host on the “Funny or Die” website, shows how far Obama and his staff will go to resuscitate his signature initiative.

“Worth a watch, especially if you want to laugh and learn abt the ACA at the same time,” said a tweet from Dan Pfeiffer, a senior Obama adviser for strategy and communications.

Obama’s closest aide, Valerie Jarrett, called it a “must watch.”

Deputy press secretary Eric Schultz responded to a tweet from The Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas asking if the show was a hoax. It’s real, Schultz tweeted.

The White House’s outside supporters also touted the pitch. “President Obama and Zach Galifiankis just made America a little better,” said fundraiser and former Obama press secretary Bill Burton.

“Obama on #BetweenTwoFerns is going to break the internet…then hopefully help enroll lots of young people in ACA,” said former press secretary Tommy Vietor.

The comedy skit was widely praised as “funny” by younger viewers, even though it was intended to help Obama make his political pitch. But the show came at a cost to Obama’s prestige, and highlighted the height he’s fallen since his 2009 inauguration, when few establishment comedians would make any jokes that would damage his status.

“Here we go. OK, let’s get this out of the way, what did you come here to plug?” says Galifianakis, the supposed host of the “Between Two Ferns” mock interview show.

“First of all, I think it is fair to say I wouldn’t be with you here today if I didn’t have something to plug,” responded Obama, who teeters between amused and irritated during the six-minute, thirty-second sketch.

“Have you heard of the Affordable Care Act?” Obama continues.

“Oh yeah, I heard about that. That’s the thing that doesn’t work,” Galifianakis responds.

“Healthcare.gov works great now, and millions of Americans have already gotten health insurance plans,” Obama says as Galifianakis looks at his watch.

“What we want is for people to know that you can get affordable health care … for what it costs you to pay your cellphone bill,” Obama continues.

“Is this what they mean by drones?” Galifianakis says, trying to look bored.

GOP commentators highlighted Obama’s comedown, and suggested would damage his prestige and clout.

“That President Obama is shilling Obamacare on ‘Between Two Ferns’ ought to suggest that it’s not, um, popular,” said a tweet from Doug Heye, a deputy chief of staff to the House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor.

The comment prompted a snarky tweet — but not a substantive response — from Jon Favraeu, Obama’s former speechwriter. “Predictable, old-fashioned debate over the ‘appropriateness’ of a POTUS using humor ensures more coverage of Between Two Ferns. Excellent!”

Begala defended Obama by tweeting a picture of President Ronald Reagan making a face at the hostile media in 1983.

President Obama needs to plug his signature program to younger customers because their monthly payments are needed to subsidize costs for older and sicker Obamacare subscribers.

He also needs the extra customers because far fewer uninsured Americans have signed up than expected, because polls show strong dislike of the program, and because important supporters — such as the health-care companies and a major union — are being damaged by the program.

A new report by a union for 300,000 low-wage workers, Unite Here, says Obamacare will impose major costs on families. In 2015, “Families moving to the exchanges may lose between 4% and 25% of income to maintain equivalent benefits,” says the report.

A recent report by a consulting firm, McKinsey, concluded that only 14 percent of the claimed 3.3 million enrollees in the commercial insurance side of Obamacare are people who lacked insurance insurance prior to the enrollment. Importantly, Obamacare’s high costs deterred half of the eligible people who didn’t sign up, according to the survey.

“At least 4.7 million Americans who shop for coverage on their own have had their plans canceled because they don’t conform to Obamacare’s regulations,” according to health-care expert Avik Roy. “So Obamacare has disrupted the coverage of millions of Americans, requiring many to purchase costlier policies with higher deductibles and narrower doctor networks, for a fairly modest expansion of coverage,” he concluded in a March 8 article in Forbes.

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