Add one more interest group to the overburdened advertising mix for the U.S. Senate race — the National Education Association.
The teachers union has bought time for the ad above. It features an Arkansas school teacher who benefitted from government-supported student loans and criticizes Republican candidate Tom Cotton for his votes against the student loan program from which he himself benefitted as a student at Harvard University.
I’ve said before: The Senate race is replete with concrete issues on which the candidates have records. This is but one of many in which — as the Green Party candidate put so well yesterday about Cotton — ideology is more important to him than the human beings who benefit from government programs he’d slash and burn.
Perhaps he’ll discuss that in tonight’s debate with Mark Pryor from the University of Arkansas. It’s at 7 p.m. Get your Obama counters ready. With more air time thanks to non-participation from third party candidates, I’m thinking Cotton can hit triple digits tonight with Obama and Obamacare references. He managed one every 10 seconds in his closing remarks on AETN yesterday.
SPEAKING OF DEBATES: You can watch the 4th District AETN debate online at 2 p.m. today — Democrat James Lee Wit and Republican Bruce Westerman are the leading candidates. Third District U.S. Rep. Steve Womack takes on a Libertarian challenger in a taped broadcast at 7 p.m. tonight.
SPEAKING OF THE ROBOTIC TOM COTTON: This piece in Salon refers to him as an android. Make that a lying android.
The ACA “is going to cost 2.5 million jobs,” Cotton said, re-upping a long-since debunked attack on the health reform law. “In Arkansas, we can expect premiums to increase by 138 percent,” Cotton said, referring to an analysis of state-by-state health insurance premiums conducted last November by a conservative think tank. (Premiums in Arkansas are actually expected to decline slightly, after years of increases.) “Sen. Pryor voted to cut Medicare by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare.” My god… are we still kicking around that hoary old chestnut?
Cotton also defended his vote against the farm bill, which is a pretty big deal in Arkansas, by claiming that he was just trying to shake up the status quo in Washington by decoupling the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“food stamps”) from the agricultural legislation. “Sen. Pryor and Barack Obama insist on doing things the old way, keeping them combined. That’s the status quo,” Pryor said, saying they should be voted on separately because (he didn’t explain why). That’s a bit of a curious statement for Cotton to make, given that he just recently released an ad – an ad he insists is completely accurate – claiming that “President Obama hijacked the farm bill” and “turned it into a food stamp bill. So the “status quo” is also a “hijacking.” Feels totally consistent to me.
Unfortunately, when it came to lying like this, Cotton was at an advantage. The debate moderator had already made clear that questioners weren’t allowed to interrupt or challenge a candidate until the rules said they could, so it would have to fall to the other candidates to get the job done. But even then, the format worked in the dissembler’s favor. Cotton made it his business to attack Pryor and fire off misleading attacks on a policies Pryor supported, but Pryor never had the opportunity to respond immediately. Each candidate was made to speak in turn, going in the same order every time, which meant that Cotton would attack Pryor, then the Green Party candidate would get his turn to talk, and then Pryor could respond.