Billionaires for Wealthcare
Billionaires for Wealthcare are a political Guerrilla theatre and culture jamming group that is satirically opposed to U.S. President Barack Obama's attempts at healthcare reform in the United States. Their stated satirical goals were meant to expose the moneyed interests in keeping the status quo of healthcare at the time.
|The Coat of Arms of the Billionaires for Wealthcare (Note the Caduceus designed to resemble the US dollar symbol, the green to further represent money or wealth and the shield as a reference to Blue Cross and Blue Shield.)|
Much like the earlier Billionaires for Bush, its members arrive at events (both pro and anti reform) in phony limousines wearing fancy attire (tuxedos, top hats, evening gowns, pearls etc.) and address one another by pseudonyms such as "Phil T. Rich", "Z. Roe Compassion" and "Frida Market". They carry signs with slogans such as Let Them Eat Advil, Do not Harm Our Bottom Line and If We Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It! (the latter also being the group's official motto). Their chants include: Walk. It. Off., Wealthcare, Not Healthcare! and Your pain, our gain. Their repertoire also includes songs with satirically modified lyrics set to well known tunes such as The Battle Hymn of the Republic  and We Shall Overcome .
They are always friendly and polite to reform opponents, making sure to thank them profusely for fighting to protect their supposed fortunes. Likewise they adopt a polite but faux taunting posture towards pro reform advocates. Often these tactics create confusion, with reform opponents returning their friendly gestures and supporters responding angrily back.
There were some remnants of the older Billionaires For Bush (B4B) members around the country that were beginning to push back against the Tea Party madness. The "Billionaires For Wealthcare" name was created and first used by a small group in Phoenix, AZ. Their first action was on August 22 2009 at a Tea Party Protest at Representative Harry Mitchell's office. They created the website and owned the domain. Local activist/videographer, Dennis Gilman, recorded the Billionaires encounter with the Tea Party protesters and produced an excellent video that garnered much media attention.
Another group in North Carolina, led by Chase Foster, also began similar actions in the same time frame.
After the media attention from the Arizona action, the Phoenix group decided to hand over the domain to the original Billionaires For Bush activists in New York. They were more capable in managing the website and expanding the movement in the same ways they had with B4B. They united the groups in AZ, NC and other cities under the B4W banner.
Activities, growth and media coverage
They had chapters in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The BFW have been featured or mentioned in numerous media outlets, both mainstream and underground. On October 23, 2009, at the final day of the Washington DC conference of America's Health Insurance Plans, an insurance industry advocacy group, BFW members interrupted a speech by Republican pollster Bill McInturff, with a version of the song Tomorrow from the musical Annie, featuring lyrics modified to mock those opposed to the public option , ,. This happened to include most everyone attending the conference. The BFW members continued to sing as they were escorted out by security.
- "About". Billionaires for Wealthcare. 2009-09-12. Archived from the original on 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2009-10-24. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "SIGNS". Billionaires for Wealthcare. 2009-09-06. Archived from the original on 2009-11-11. Retrieved 2009-10-24. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Be A Billionaire". Billionaires for Wealthcare. 2009-09-06. Archived from the original on 2009-09-26. Retrieved 2009-10-24. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "August 22, 2009 in Scottsdale, AZ : Billionaires for Wealthcare". www.billionairesforwealthcare.com. Archived from the original on February 16, 2016. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
- Dennis Gilman (2009-08-16), Billionaires for Wealthcare: The Original., retrieved 2016-02-11 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2009-12-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Chapters". Billionaires for Wealthcare. 2009-09-06. Archived from the original on 2009-11-12. Retrieved 2009-10-24. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "PRESS". Billionaires for Wealthcare. Archived from the original on 2009-11-11. Retrieved 2009-10-24. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)