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New bill to force disclosure in government advertising

Curtis Kalin
November 14, 2013

Amid the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to advertise for the new healthcare law, a new bill has been proposed in order to shed light on the funding sources that make these ads possible. The Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2013 was recently introduced by Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) and has already garnered 110 cosponsors.

Current law does not require any advertisement sponsored by an executive branch agency to stipulate its use of taxpayer money. The Taxpayer Transparency Act would require that any advertisement in print, online, on radio, or on television post a disclaimer at the bottom of the commercial denoting its use of taxpayer funding with the phrase “Paid for at Taxpayer Expense”.

The five page bill would also mandate that these disclaimers must be a reasonable size on TV and print or spoken clearly on radio. Any compliance cost associated with this measure would be taken from an agency’s existing advertising budget.

While the measure does not have any singular intent, the large sum being spent on the Obamacare ad rollout is surely a prime example. A July Associated Press review predicted that the Obamacare ad blitz would cost nearly $700 million.

Last month, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services spent $12 million to advertise on air in mostly red states. Perhaps more disconcerting to some is the $67 million dollars spent on “navigators” in states across America. These employees, paid with taxpayer money, came up with the now infamous “brosurance” marketing campaign in Colorado.


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