For the past few days, the Kentucky Senate race has been about Medicare. More to the point, it’s been about a grainy video of Republican nominee Rand Paul taken in June 2009 showing Paul calling for a $2,000 deductible on Medicare payments to save the government-run health care program for the elderly.
Democratic nominee Jack Conway has been having a field day with the video, which he turned into a TV commercial that captures the probable level of popularity the idea has among seniors in Kentucky.
“That’s crazy,” one elderly lady says in the ad. “I can’t afford that.”
Obfuscation being the nature of things in political ads, you might expect that when given a chance to talk about the $2,000 deductible scheme, Paul would rattle off the ways Conway took his words out of context or practiced ‘gotcha’ selective editing in the clip.
You’d be wrong.[TPM SLIDESHOW: Kentucky’s Fancy Farm campaign kickoff]
On Neil Cavuto’s Fox News show today, Paul not only stood by the position Conway said he took on a $2,000 deductible for Medicare, he actually threw gasoline on the fire by suggesting that the deductible should apply to all future beneficiaries 55 years old or younger.
Back in June 2009, when he was captured talking about the scheme the first time, Paul was pretty honest about how the idea would fly with voters.
“Try selling that one in an election,” he laughed at the time. Now, it seems, Paul is trying to do just that.
“I’m not talking about changing the deductible for anyone who gets Medicare currently,” Paul told Cavuto. “But I am saying younger people — probably 55 and under.”
“We need people who will stand up like adults, admit to the problems, and try to fix these problems,” Paul added. “Not on the backs of current senior citizens, but on the next generation that comes forward.”
The TPM Poll Average shows Paul leading the race 47.4-41.9.
Late Update: Despite his comments on Cavuto today, Paul is apparently up with his own set of ads claiming “he does not support higher deductibles for Medicare and that his Democratic rival, Jack Conway, is ‘deliberately distorting’ his views on the issue,” according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.