The GOP, Guardians of Health Security

This morning, Greg Sargent calls our attention to this new ad for Mitch McConnell, in which a man who got cancer from his job at a uranium enrichment plant in Paducah. The man testifies that it was McConnell, fierce advocate of worker safety and health security, who made sure that workers got cancer screening and compensation:

That'll never work, a liberal might say. McConnell is not only one of the nation's foremost opponents of any and all regulations to protect worker safety, but he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would take away the health coverage tens of thousands of Kentuckians just got. As you may know, Kentucky has been more aggressive in taking advantage of the ACA than probably any other conservative state. They set up their own exchange, and it has proven to be one of the best in the country; they also accepted the Medicaid expansion (these developments can be attributed mostly to the fact that the governor is a Democrat). According to this site tracking signups under the ACA, in Kentucky, nearly 40,000 people have signed up for private insurance via the exchange, and another 100,000 have enrolled in Medicaid. All of those people would be tossed off their coverage if McConnell got his way. So surely no one will believe this ad, right?

Wrong. Even people whose lives are literally being saved by the Affordable Care Act will tell you they don't want any part of that horrible Obamacare. That's particularly true in a state like Kentucky, where you have a large population of poor whites who both hate Barack Obama and will benefit enormously from the expansion of Medicaid he gave them.

I'm not saying everybody is fooled by Republicans claiming to be the guardians of Americans' health; in fact, they always start with a significant disadvantage on the issue. But every election they offer spectacularly disingenuous arguments about it, like this little gem from the 2010 campaign, in which Republican Dan Coats, proud defender of Medicare, assaults his opponent for voting "with Nancy Pelosi to force seniors into Barack Obama's government-run health care program, reducing the protection Medicare provides." Egad! What horror will befall those seniors, so safe with their Medicare, once they are forced into a government-run health care program!

There were other versions of this attack all over the country, and guess what: It worked! At least to a degree. There are enough people who are sufficiently uninformed that they don't realize that Medicare is a government program, or can be convinced that Republicans like McConnell care deeply about making sure everyone has health security, to neutralize the issue.

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