Grimes blasts McConnell on Medicare but star of new ad unaffected


by Joe Arnold

Posted on July 9, 2014 at 12:51 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 9 at 12:51 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Alison Lundergan Grimes' first attack ad of the 2014 U.S. Senate race criticizes Sen. Mitch McConnell's record on Medicare, featuring a retired Eastern Kentucky coal miner who questions a failed 2011 budget measure which would have privatized the federal health insurance program for senior citizens.

"I want to know how you could have voted to raise my Medicare costs by $6000?," Don Disney says in the commercial.  "How are my wife and I supposed to afford that?"

WHAS11's review of the legislation cited in the ad finds that Disney's question is misleading because the Medicare changes proposed in Rep. Paul Ryan's 2011 budget plan would not have applied to current retirees.

Disney is 75 years old. The plan would have applied to those under the age of 55.

After a speech in downtown Louisville, WHAS11 asked Grimes about the accuracy of her ad.

"We'll let Mitch Mcconnell explain his vote for the Paul Ryan budget which actually increases Medicare costs and privatizes Social Security," Grimes replied.

In May, 2011, McConnell voted to advance Ryan's budget, which at the time included an overhaul of Medicare that analysts believe would have raised out of pocket expenses on future retirees.  The Ryan plan has evolved since then and the earlier measure is not under consideration.

The Grimes claim is based on a 2011 analysis of the Ryan plan which concluded it would increase out of pocket costs by $6000 for the typical Medicare beneficiary.

Furthermore, the Grimes campaign argues the forecast of a new voucher system would shrink the Medicare pool and increase costs for seniors now, not just in the future.

McConnell's campaign says Grimes has hit the "panic button" by resorting to an attack that scares Kentucky seniors.

"The simple reality is that Senator McConnell has fought to protect Medicare, while Alison Lundergan Grimes and her political benefactors have raided it by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare,” said McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore.

The claim of a $700 billion Medicare cut has also been criticized by independent fact-checkers because the Affordable Care Act spread out the $700 billion cut over 10 years by cutting payments to Medicare service providers rather than from recipients' benefits.

Ryan included the $700 billion Medicare cuts in his budget plan.

"He'll have to answer to the voters of Kentucky why he has been on the wrong side of every issue," Grimes said, "including voting for a budget that would increase costs for Medicare for our seniors especially our retired coal miners."

The Grimes campaign said the Medicare ad is the first in a series of commercials which will feature Kentuckians asking critical questions of McConnell on issues that impact families and economic security.

"This is Kentuckians' campaign," Grimes said. "They are at the forefront of each and every decision we make. They're ready for someone who will finally put people ahead of partisanship, and we're pointing out how Mitch McConnell after 30 years has a failed record when it comes to Kentuckians."

The pro-McConnell Kentucky Opportunity Coalition also began airing a new ad on Tuesday which criticizes Grimes for dodging tough questions on the campaign trail.

Grimes brought the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers to their feet in Louisville on Tuesday, striking populist themes such as a minimum wage hike, pay equity and student loan debt reform.

"Right to Work is wrong for Kentucky," Grimes said to the IBEW meeting, "it's just another word for union busting and as your United States Senator, I will have none of it."

Grimes said she would be "someone that wants to give the middle class of Kentucky a fighting chance to actually survive."