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Astroturf refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.

Yesterday Representative Vicky Hatzler (r) sent out her latest e-mail missive with some interesting observations an Medicare:

From: Representative Vicky Hartzler [….]

Date: Sat, Aug 25, 2012 at [….]

Subject: View From the Capitol – Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s Newsletter for the Week of August 20-24, 2012

To: [….]

….The deficit for 2012 alone….

….On another matter, I felt honored this week to be recognized for my efforts to address issues involving senior citizens. I was presented with the “Standing Up for America’s Seniors” award by RetireSafe – a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan grassroots organization that advocates on behalf of America’s seniors on such issues as Social Security, Medicare, health and financial well-being….

[emphasis added]

There is a history of receiving astroturf awards.

Let’s take a look at RetireSafe [2004]:

….RetireSafe is a project of the Council for Government Reform, a corporate-backed group that advocates privatization of Social Security and other government services….

[emphasis added]

Uh, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t privatizing Social Security the third rail of American politics? Like that worked out so well for George W. Bush.

Via OpenSecrets [2012]:

Client Total Subsidiary (Lobbied For) Industry

Council for Government Reform $144,341 RetireSafe Repub/Conservative

[emphasis added]

So much for “nonpartisan”. Their financial numbers are down quite a bit from peaks in 2000, 2005 and 2010. 2011 was a particularly minimalist year.

Interesting, let’s look at what RetireSafe was up to when Medicare, part D was in the works.:

The Hill

September 22, 2004 Wednesday

Want to earn quick $4K? See GOP firm

By Bob Cusack

….A recent e-mail sent from the DCI Group’s Starlee Rhoades to healthcare consultants says that the campaign will run from Sept. 15 to Oct. 31 and that the client is RetireSafe, which has sponsored the hiring of healthcare consultants….

….Reached yesterday, Rhoades initially denied that she was involved in this campaign. But when told that her e-mail had been distributed widely, Rhoades said, “I can’t talk about it.”

In a faxed comment, RetireSafe acknowledged it has launched a nationwide education effort on the new Medicare drug law….

Yes, that Medicare, part D. You know:

A Windfall From Shifts to Medicare


Published: July 18, 2006

….in creating the federal Part D program, Congress – in what critics saw as a sop to the drug industry – barred the government from having a negotiating role….

Saving money with the ability to negotiate volume discounts? Not a priority.

Economic Downturn and Bush Policies Continue to Drive Large Projected Deficits

Economic Recovery Measures, Financial Rescues Have Only Temporary Impact

By Kathy Ruffing and James R. Horney

May 10, 2011

….One of the major domestic initiatives of the Bush Administration was enactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (known informally as the Medicare Modernization Act, or MMA). The MMA created a new prescription-drug benefit in Medicare, known as Medicare Part D. This legislation was only partly paid for, and it added significantly to the deficit that President Obama inherited….

….CBO now expects the net cost of Medicare Part D over that initial 2004-2013 period to be about $375 billion (as compared to the original $552 billion figure). But, it is not possible to tell whether the savings in Medicaid and other programs have deviated from CBO’s original estimate of $157 billion….

I don’t think Representative Hartzler (r) quite gets the irony of happily trumpeting an award she received from an astroturf group which at one time advocated for legislation which increased the national debt, while at the same time she decries that same national debt.