Speed Reads

Time Capsule

This 1990 Mitch McConnell health-care ad wouldn't fly in 2017

Perhaps it is unfair to compare the actions of a politician today to his promises made 27 years ago — it's hard enough to get politicians to live up to campaign promises made in the last election cycle. But this 1990 campaign ad from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), now the Senate majority leader laboring to push through a massive health-care bill, seems fairly relevant.

"When I was a child and my dad was in World War II, I got polio," McConnell said in the ad, uncovered by Jeff Nichols, a Chicago historian. "I recovered, but my family almost went broke. Today, too many families can't get decent, affordable health care. That's why I've introduced a bill to make sure health care is available to all Kentucky families, hold down skyrocketing costs, and provide long-term care." In 1990, McConnell was running for a second term against Democrat Harvey Sloane, a doctor and former Louisville mayor, and the ad ends with a voiceover: "You don't have to be a doctor to deliver health care to Kentucky."

McConnell is still introducing health-care bills and still promising to "hold down skyrocketing costs," but the Congressional Budget Office predicts that his Better Care Reconciliation Act would result in 22 million fewer Americans with health insurance in a decade, starting with 15 million fewer insured next year. The bill's steep Medicaid cuts and structural changes would have an outsize impact on children and people in long-term nursing-home care. Kentucky has a total population of about 4.4 million, and its Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is scaling back the successful ObamaCare program instituted by his predecessor, former Gov. Steve Beshear (D) — who, incidentally, McConnell beat in his 1996 race.

As a side note, McConnell overcame polio with help from the Warm Springs Institute, funded by the organization that would become the March of Dimes; the March of Dimes is one of the medical groups McConnell declined to meet with last week over its concerns about his new health-care bill.