Nick Rahall (D-WV) tries the mediscare play

Among the many endangered species Democrats who are on the block this November, one in particular seems to be getting nervous to the point of desperation. Nick Rahall, in West Virginia’s 3rd district, is in a tough race this year against Evan Jenkins. (For the record, Jenkins is a recovering Democrat who changed parties after apparently growing despondent over his former party’s positions on guns, jobs, the war on coal and other issues.) Rahall recently launched a new television ad in which he attempts to “inform” voters about Jenkins’ position on Medicare. (The video is available here at Factcheck.)

When money talks, Evan Jenkins listens. His billionaire financial backers want to turn Medicare into a voucher plan.

That could raise seniors’ out of pocket costs, something Evan Jenkins is comfortable with. He said seniors “should have some financial skin in the game” and “think harder about going to the doctor.”

West Virginia seniors deserve better.

Wow. That’s a pretty damning indictment. Or at least it would be if it were even remotely close to being true.

Actually, Jenkins was talking about nominal copays for Medicaid — not Medicare.

The TV ad, titled “Listens,” is the latest example of what we call “Mediscare” — a distortion of an opponent’s position on Medicare to scare seniors…

The “voucher plan” and the $6,000 price tag are badly outdated references to a House Republican budget plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin in 2011. As we have written a few times, Ryan significantly revised that plan and it may or may not increase seniors’ out-of-pocket expenses…

Immediately after the ad’s narrator says Jenkins is “comfortable” with raising seniors’ out-of-pocket costs, the ad makes this false claim: “He said seniors should have some ‘financial skin in the game’ and ‘think harder about going to the doctor.’ ” On the screen, viewers see a partial quote attributed to Jenkins from a Charleston Daily Mail article from May 13, 2013: “With a little financial skin in the game, they will think about . . . whether or not ‘I really need to go to the doctor.’ ”

Who’s “they”? Not seniors. Jenkins wasn’t talking about Ryan’s plan, seniors or Medicare. He was talking about Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and charging Medicaid recipients a nominal copay to prevent the overuse of services, particularly emergency department services. Medicaid is a joint federal-state health insurance program for low-income people; Medicare provides health insurance for those age 65 and over.

So the reality was that Jenkins was actually talking about a program where many seniors probably wouldn’t mind seeing some cost savings, but Rahall flatly lied about it and substituted a different program. This is pretty much the equivalent of the old Paul Ryan Pushing Granny Off a Cliff in a Wheelchair ad. Only it’s being tuned up and taken out for a fresh spin in the 2014 mid-terms. Ah… I suppose you never really get tired of the golden oldies, eh?

Politics is a hardball game, so this sort of thing is sadly to be expected on the modern ideological battlefield. And while Rahall needs to be allowed his fair share of free speech, it almost makes one think twice about proposed laws against lying in political campaigns. But on the plus side, if a sitting congressman is desperate enough to run a blatant, easily exposed piece of mendacity such as this, then West Virginia might be one step closer to sending him off to a long overdue retirement.

Meanwhile, Jenkins is launching ads such as this:

Quite the contrast, eh?