Senate Democrats are pushing back against "horror stories" from individuals who contend they've faced dire consequences from the implementation of Obamacare, saying they'll be revealed as untrue.
"All of them are untrue. But they're being told all over America," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., during a floor speech, criticizing the Koch brothers for what he considers false attacks.
Republicans were quick to circulate Reid's comments, but a similar line continued when a group of Senate Democrats formally unveiled a new campaign in favor of the Affordable Care Act. New York Democrat Charles E. Schumer said at the event that the anecdotal stories will be disproved, blunting the effect in November.
"Over the next several months, the ACA is going to become less important as a Republican campaign issue because more and more Americans, from young adults all the way up through seniors are realizing the benefits it has to offer," Schumer said. "In addition, the parade of horrible stories trotted out by the haters of this bill have proved not to be true."
"The combination of the parade of horribles fading and the good stuff coming forward is going to make this much less important an issue by the time 2014 elections roll around," Schumer said.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is among the leaders of the newest counteroffensive. The other Senate seat in her home state is being vacated by retiring Sen. Carl Levin and Democratic Rep. Gary Peters is running to replace him. He's one of the Democrats being targeted by outside groups over his support for the health care law, with an ad that's become particular contentious about the effect of the health care law on a leukemia patient.
Stabenow said Democrats need to get more aggressive about refuting such advertisements, citing a Washington Post fact check disputing the story behind the advertisement.
"It's very unfortunate that we are seeing ads that have received critiques by the Washington Post giving it two Pinocchios for being untruthful," Stabenow said after the news conference. "We've got to dig more deeply so that when someone says, 'I lost my insurance, my costs went up,' and in fact their premiums dropped in half, and they're protected from out-of-pocket costs because there's a cap, we've got to be able to get it out there."
Philip Ellender, government and public affairs president for Koch Companies Public Sector, issued a statement blasting Reid's floor comments that referenced the Michigan ad in particular.
"Senator Reid's attack today — his third against Koch since January 30th — is particularly troubling because he appears to reference a television advertisement produced by Americans for Prosperity in which a Michigan woman suffering from leukemia shared her experiences under Obamacare," Ellender said. "While Charles Koch and David Koch were not responsible for the advertisement in question, we believe it is disgraceful that Senator Reid and his fellow Democrats are attacking a cancer victim as part of their campaign against Charles Koch and David Koch."
"This should not be about politics. People in Michigan need health care. Seniors need help paying for their prescription drugs, small businesses need lower costs, and I think that it is very reckless and irresponsible that Republicans just play politics with something so important to families," Stabenow said.
Asked at the news conference if Democrats on the ballot in 2014 will be engaging in the new public relations effort, Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut said that some would.
"We didn't want to overwhelm you, but there's probably about 20 or 25 Democrats that are going to be a part of this effort," Murphy said. "There will be members who are up for re-election in 2014 who will join us at press conferences and down on the floor."
That leaves open the question of which 2014 Democrats might take up the cause on the Senate floor. Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., is running for another term this year, for instance.
"Democrats are proud that they voted for it," Murphy said. "There are many that are going to offer and suggest changes, but our effort is one at trying to make clear that now four years into implementation we're really starting to see, in real terms, the benefits of the law."