This has been a week of negative, not entirely true ads from both parties in Kentucky’s contentious Senate race.
Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes released an ad on Tuesday accusing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of trying to raise seniors’ health care costs. It features a retired coal miner, Don Disney — surely chosen so Grimes could emphasize her support for Kentucky coal — who asks McConnell why he voted to raise his Medicare costs by $6,000.
The ad is referring to McConnell’s procedural vote to advance Paul Ryan’s 2011 budget proposal, which would have privatized Medicare. The problem with the ad, however, is that the budget would only have affected future seniors — not Disney. Still, even if Disney himself wouldn’t have been affected by the Ryan budget, it still would have cut funding for many future seniors.
Nevertheless, the Associated Press called Grimes’ ad “misleading,” and stated that “McConnell cast no such vote.”
The Grimes campaign says that Ryan’s bill would have driven up the cost of Medicare regardless. But the $6,000 increase would only affect those who signed up for private plans, and has actually been retracted by the Congressional Budget Office.
“It says a lot about the candidacy of Alison Lundergan Grimes that she’s a full four months away from the election and she already hit the panic button by resorting to the oldest, most cynical attack in the Obama playbook to scare Kentucky seniors,” McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement.
The McConnell campaign also claimed that “there is no way to speculate if [McConnell] would have voted for final passage without having debated amendments.” McConnell’s previous vote was only on a motion to consider the budget, not to pass it.
But McConnell has emphasized his support for the Ryan plan many times. On the Senate floor in 2011, he said that the budget “would strengthen the social safety net so we can keep the promises we’ve made to America’s seniors.” During an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press that same year, he said, “I voted for the Ryan budget.”
The McConnell campaign decided to respond to Grimes with its own not-so-accurate ad. That spot says that “Grimes supports Obamacare, which cuts $700 billion from seniors’ Medicare … Obama and Grimes will pay for Obamacare on the backs of Kentucky seniors.”
This figure is also incorrect, as the $700 billion comes not from reducing benefits for seniors, but from reducing payments to insurance providers over an entire decade. It also happens to be included in the same Ryan budget that McConnell had supported.
On Wednesday, the Grimes campaign responded with another web video, featuring MSNBC’s Ed Schultz saying that McConnell has a “wish list” to raise Medicare costs for seniors.
“Rather than protecting and fighting for Kentucky seniors, Mitch McConnell would decimate Medicare, raise the program’s eligibility age and increase out-of-pocket costs for seniors if he had his way. Mitch McConnell could not be more wrong for Kentucky seniors,” the Grimes campaign said in an email to The National Memo.
Moore responded to the ad by dismissing it: “I don’t think running out MSNBC’s Ed Schultz in a web video is going to extinguish the flames on her credibility.”
The Huffington Post poll average shows that McConnell is currently ahead of Grimes by two points. The race will likely stay negative through the fall, as McConnell attempts to tie Grimes to Obama, and Grimes blames McConnell for nothing getting done in Congress.
Both Grimes’ and McConnell’s ads can be seen below:
AFP Photo/Win Mcnamee
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