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Fact Check: Obama Said He Didn't Spend 'Billions' to Promote Health Law, But Actually...


"We didn't make a hard sell."

President Barack Obama waves as he gets off Air Force One upon his arrival at King Khalid International airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Friday, March 28, 2014. President Barack Obama is in Saudi Arabia to reassure the key Gulf ally that his commitment to the Arab world isn't wavering. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Despite the "billions of dollars" critics have spent on anti-Obamacare ads, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that his signature health care law has been a success.

President Barack Obama walks to the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 2, 2014. (AP)

"The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden to cheers and applause from supporters.

The president in his “victory lap” bragged that the Affordable Care Act was able to meet its goal of having 7.1 million people signed up by March 31 without having to dump buckets of money into promoting the law.

"We didn't make a hard sell. We didn't have billions of dollars to spend on commercials like our critics did," Obama said.

But it would seem that the president’s claim, which enraged Glenn Beck on the radio Wednesday, is not entirely accurate.

In fact, the health care law was not only promoted with a “hard sell” in the weeks leading up to the March 31 open enrollment deadline, but a significant amount of money was also spent on encouraging people to enroll.

From January 1, 2014, through the end of March, approximately $52 million was spent on a pro-Obamacare ad blitz that included NBA star Lebron James, posts on the satirical website the Onion and ads targeting younger consumers in Chicago and New York City, Forbes reported.

And prior to the 2014 ad blitz, the Associated Press reported that the White House was on track to spend approximately $700 million on a nationwide campaign aimed at encouraging people without insurance to enroll in Obamacare.

Taken together, the $52 million figure, the initial estimate of $700 million and all the dollars spent on anti-Obamacare ads, the total amount of cash spent on ads for and against the Affordable Care Act will easily top $1 billion, according to data compiled by the Campaign Media Analysis Group.

"The law both parties now call 'Obamacare' seems due to join Social Security and Medicare in one respect: as a public policy advertising phenom, a program that is reviled and perhaps eventually revered in political advertising for billions of dollars in ad spend to come," Elizabeth Wilner, vice president for strategic initiatives at the Campaign Media Analysis Group, said in a statement. "Yet while Social Security and Medicare have been litigated on the airwaves for more than 40 years, CMAG expects the ACA to break the $1 billion mark by its fifth birthday."

The group said in its report that spending on anti-Obamacare ads has outweighed pro-Obamacare ads. However, the group added, as 2014 comes to a close and we wrap up the fall midterms, the difference in spending will most likely shrink.

So although a great deal of money has been spent on anti-Obamacare ads, it would seem inaccurate to say that that the law didn't also have a great deal of financial and promotional support of its own.

Oh, also, let’s not forget the estimated $1 billion that has already been spent on the glitchy, error-riddled website. That figure is expected to increase.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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