A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

NRSC Ad a Loser in Kentucky


The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s first ad against Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway attacks him for supporting "a government takeover of health care."

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about Republican ads mischaracterizing the new health care law as a "government takeover," and unfortunately we’re certain it won’t be the last. This is one of the GOP’s top campaign themes.

The ad against Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, also hits him for not joining other, mostly Republican, state attorneys general in suing over the health law and for saying "yes" when "Obama and Pelosi cut hundreds of billions from Medicare."

The allegation that the new health care law, signed by President Obama in March, amounts to a "government takeover" of medicine in the U.S. is just plain wrong. The law expands upon the private health care system we have now. In fact, the law’s mandate that everyone get insurance will be a boon to private insurers, giving them millions more customers. It does include an expansion of Medicaid, which, like Medicare, is a government-run program.

It’s true that Conway did refuse to join a group of other state attorneys general (now numbering 20) in lawsuits to block the implementation of parts of the health law, calling the actions "good Sarah Palin-style ‘tea party’ politics" and "a political stunt."

But the ad, which is cast as an old-fashioned newsreel and uses what appears to be actual newsreel footage, makes it sound as though Conway was approving a new and different initiative when the narrator says: "When Obama and Pelosi cut hundreds of billions from Medicare, Conway still said yes." However, that’s simply another reference to the health care law.

And, as faithful readers of FactCheck.org must surely grow tired of reading (as in "Misleading Onslaught by 60 Plus," an article we posted just moments before posting this item), the reality is that the law cuts about $555 billion from the future growth of the Medicare program over the next 10 years. It doesn’t cut current spending, nor does it cut seniors’ basic benefits packages. In fact, it expressly forbids cuts in those benefits.

Conway is running against Republican Rand Paul, the son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul and a tea party favorite.