Extremist Republican Rep. Tom Cotton has been blasting Sen. Mark Pryor repeatedly through every possible type of medium over the Affordable Care Act. Its rocky startup is certainly rich material in a state with a proven dislike for the president who won its passage.

Cotton has been serially outrageous on the subject — dishonest or hypocritical or both. His backers at the Club for Growth (Greed) have been even worse. Check their apparent photoshop of Pryor into a picture with President Obama’s hand on his shoulder. Democratic campaigners believe this was the shot in which Pryor was inserted. (The Club for Greed’s spokesman declined to answer a question about the photo.)


So today, Pryor’s campaign fired back with a point-by-point explanation of all that’s wrong with what Cotton has been saying. Pryor is right, of course. Cotton is spreading manure..

But the subject is complicated and evolving. Will people read and absorb the whole truth?


Cotton is banking that they won’t. “Mark Pryor voted for Obamacare.” That’s all you know and all you need to know, preferably illustrated by a photo of Pryor in the warm embrace of the black Kenyan.

You can see what I mean by reading Pryor’s release on the jump.


Here’s a message: Tom Cotton does not want Arkansas people to get government-helped health care. He wants to devastate Medicaid and Medicare. Oh, and he doesn’t want his tax money feeding the growing ranks of poor people either. Maybe we should photoshop him with one of the Koch brothers. The shadowy Jackson T. Stephens Jr. of Little Rock, a key Club for Greed bankroller, would be a good fit, too.

PS: I thought the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee had a pretty effective summary amid a roundup of how Republican candidates are all using the same anti-Obama playbook:

ARKANSAS: Tom Cotton is the most dangerous ideologue the establishment has embraced since they spent over $11 million trying to elect Sharron Angle. He opposes the Farm Bill (in Arkansas!). He wants to eliminate all federal student loans (even though he himself used them to go to Harvard). And just like Ken Cuccinelli, Tom Cotton wants to make it harder for women to divorce their husbands.


Cotton’s Hypocrisy on Health Care Fixes: Attacking Pryor for Shared Policy Goals


Shameless political attacks prove Cotton’s disinterest in making law work for Arkansans

Cotton would repeal benefits already in place for seniors, women and families.

LITTLE ROCK – Yesterday, Rep. Tom Cotton cynically disparaged Sen. Mark Pryor’s latest attempt to hold the Obama administration accountable on health care implementation, calling a bill Pryor co-sponsored — the “Keeping Affordable Care Promise Act” — a politically-motivated “symbolic gesture.”

Incredibly, just one week ago, Cotton’s campaign touted his own co-sponsorship of the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” legislation that attempts to address the same essential issue of allowing Americans to keep their health care plans if they like them.

Given Cotton’s instinctive politicization of this issue, even at the risk of discrediting himself with Arkansans who care about actual policy solutions, it’s no wonder that he has consistently voted to return to the days of insurance company abuses, including cancelling people’s policies if they get sick, denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and putting caps on coverage that drive hardworking families into bankruptcy.

“Mark Pryor has always said he’ll back responsible fixes to the health care law so long as they benefit Arkansans, which is why Mark is calling for new legislation that delivers on the Obama administration’s promises to let folks keep their coverage,” said Jeff Weaver, Pryor for Senate campaign manager. “While Mark works across the aisle to find reasonable solutions, Congressman Cotton recklessly voted to eliminate free mammograms for women, more doctor visits for families, and new Medicare drug benefits for seniors.”

Pryor Has Continually Supported Efforts To Improve Affordable Care Act.

Pryor Said He Was Looking To Continue To Improve The Affordable Care Act. According to Talk Business, “‘I think in the end, it was a good vote, but let me say one last thing about it: it was big, it was complicated. There’s no doubt, there’s no doubt we didn’t get it all right. I can promise you that if we got 80% of it right, we did something. We still need to go in and work on that 20% and I’ve already supported efforts to change some of that. I’ll support efforts now. I’ve supported efforts in the past. I’ll support efforts in the future to get it right.’” [Talk Business, 6/2/13]

Pryor Introduced Bill To Ensure Arkansans Could Stay On Their Health Plans

Pryor Cosponsored The Keeping Affordable Care Promise Act. According to KATV, “Sen. Mark Pryor signed on to co-sponsor the Affordable Care Act Promise Act Thursday. The bill was introduced Monday by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V). The bill is an attempt to protect millions of Americans from being dropped from their current insurance because it does not meet the guidelines set under the Affordable Care Act. Pryor said in a statement the ‘common-sense bill’ would grandfather thousands of Americans’ health care plans. ‘I’ve urged the White House to fix this administratively, but until that happens, this is the most reasonable solution. As I’ve said many times throughout this process, I will always work to find responsible solutions to fix problems where they exist,’ Pryor said.” [KATV, 11/7/13]

But The Cotton Campaign Called It A “Symbolic Gesture”…

Cotton Campaign Called Keeping Affordable Care Promise Act A “Symbolic Gesture”. According to Arkansas News, “Pryor’s likely Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, has made repeal of the Affordable Care Act a central theme of his campaign. Cotton campaign manager Justin Brasell said Thursday that Pryor needs to go beyond ‘symbolic gestures’ to undo the harm caused by Obamacare.” [Arkansas News, 11/7/13]

…Despite Cosponsoring Similar Legislation To Address Issue

Cotton Cosponsored the Keep Your Health Plan Act. A press release from Congressman Cotton’s office read, “Congressman Tom Cotton (R-Dardanelle) released the following statement after co-sponsoring the Keep Your Health Plan Act, legislation that ensures Americans are able to keep their current healthcare plans under Obamacare: ‘President Obama repeatedly promised the American people ‘if you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan,.’ Unfortunately, many are finding out the hard way that’s not the case as insurance providers send out cancellation notices to millions of Americans. This legislation allows Americans to keep their current health insurance if they like it and ensures they won’t incur any penalty for doing so.” [Press Release, Office Of Congressman Cotton, 10/30/13]

And Forgetting His Repeated Votes To Kick People With Pre-Existing Conditions Out Of The Insurance Marketplace

In 2013: Cotton Voted At Least 7 Times To Repeal, Defund, Or Dismantle Health Care Reform. [House Vote 447; House Vote 445, 8/2/13; House Vote 363, 7/17/13; House Vote 361, 7/17/13; House Vote 154, 5/16/13; House Vote 88, 3/21/13; House Vote 86, 3/20/13]

Cotton Co-Sponsored A Bill To Repeal The Affordable Care Act. [Library of Congress, H.R. 45, introduced 1/3/13, co-sponsored 2/6/13]

Affordable Care Act Prohibited Health Insurance Companies From Denying Coverage To People With Pre-Existing Conditions. In March 2010, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that six months after the Health Care Legislation is signed, health plans would be prohibited from excluding children who have preexisting conditions. In 2014, this prohibition would be extended to adults. That year, insurers would no longer be allowed to set annual limits, rescind coverage, or impose excessive waiting periods before coverage starts. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/22/10]

· … Including Children. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, six months after health care legislation was signed, health plans would be prohibited from excluding children who have preexisting conditions. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/22/10]

· … Including Pregnant Women. According to PolitiFact.com, pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition. “But for now, Rohack is correct that pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition and prevents many women from getting coverage if they seek insurance on the individual market,” the website explained. [politifact.com, 8/18/09]

· … Including Breast Cancer Survivors. According to PolitiFact.com, cancer was considered a pre-existing condition. And according to U.S. News, breast cancer was specifically considered a pre-existing condition. “Starting in 2014, insurers won’t be able to deny applicants based on, say, an earlier diagnosis of breast cancer,” the story reported. [politifact.com, 8/18/09; usnews.com, 1/14/11]

Affordable Care Act Made It Illegal For Health Insurance Companies To Arbitrarily Cancel Coverage When Policyholder Became Sick. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Affordable Care Act, “Makes it illegal for health insurance companies to arbitrarily cancel your health insurance just because you get sick.” [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, accessed 9/9/13]

Affordable Care Act Ended Lifetime Caps On Health Care Coverage. According to the New York Times, “The legislation put an end to lifetime limits on coverage for the first time, erasing the financial burdens, including personal bankruptcy, that had affected many ailing Americans.” [New York Times, 2/1/11]