Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is defending a new TV ad targeting incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell over Medicare costs.
At a campaign stop Tuesday in Louisville, Grimes said McConnell has taken votes that have hurt seniors and increased their health expenses.
The 30-second campaign spot features Grimes sitting in front of a fire truck alongside retired coal miner Don Disney, who questions McConnell's vote for the controversial Paul Ryan budget plan.
"Senator, I'm a retired coal miner," Disney said. "I want to know how you could've voted to raise my Medicare costs by six thousand dollars. How are my wife and I supposed to afford that?"
McConnell voted to proceed on the original Ryan spending plan, three years ago as the Grimes ad cites.
At the time, analysts using data from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the GOP-backed proposal would've raised out-of-pocket Medicare costs from $6,000 to $12,000.
Independent fact-checkers have taken jabs at other Democratic candidates for running similar "Medi-scare" attack ads on GOP incumbents, however.
The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reported that the $6,000 figure is outdated when compared to the revised Ryan budget plan that came out a year later. There has been little analysis of the 2012 spending plan, but the American Medical Association calculated Medicare costs would have gone up by just $800 for seniors.
McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said the Grimes ad is an act of desperation.
"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," she said.
Moore went on to say McConnell has fought to protect Medicare, adding Grimes and her allies want to "cut it by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare."
The health care law makes those savings to Medicare by reducing payouts to hospitals and private insurance companies.
Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst cried foul at the McConnell team's response, pointing out the Senate GOP leader voted for the 2012 Ryan budget plan, which includes those same cost-saving measures.
In 2011, GOP lawmakers defended the plan against the sort of attacks in Grimes's ad by saying the Medicare overhaul wouldn't effect seniors near or in retirement.
The Republican plan did include an exemption to "grandfather" traditional Medicare options, but observers at the time said it would have still impacted those over 55 years of age.
A 2011 report in the National Journal, for instance, said that if the Ryan budget had passed current Medicare recipients would have been left in a riskier pool with younger Americans opting out.
The consequences of the GOP spending plan would have been a limited subsidy and Medicare would have been "forced to either raise premiums or limit reimbursements to health care providers—which could prompt many to stop taking Medicare patients."
Grimes told reporters Tuesday that she stands by her Medicare ad, and that is represents a way for average Kentuckians to question their senior senator.
"I think it's the thoughts from Kentuckians as to where Mitch McConnell stands," she said. "He’s been missing in action for nearly 30 years and today you heard from one of Kentucky’s seniors, a retired coal miner wanting to know why Mitch McConnell wants to increase Medicare costs and private Social Security."
Grimes' campaign plans to continue this offensive in a series of ads featuring Kentuckians critical of McConnell's votes.
"This is Kentuckian’s campaign, they are at the forefront of each and every decision we make," said Grimes. "They’re ready for someone that will finally put people ahead of partisanship."