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.