Truth Test: US Senate race and the issues of Medicare and Social Security

Friday, September 10th 2004, 8:55 am
By: News On 6

The race for Oklahoma's US Senate seat is picking up speed, with both the candidates on the air - trying to get their message out - and refute what the other guy is saying.

There's a little bit of truth in all of it. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan has this week’s Trust Test. When it comes to government spending, Tom Coburn and Brad Carson have little in common.

Coburn's ads focus on cutting government spending - Carson's ads say the government isn't spending enough. Carson: "I believe Medicare should cover the cost of prescription drugs and we need to fix the benefit so it includes all seniors." Coburn: "Congress is spending money that first of all they don't have to spend and that's why we have a $600 billion dollar deficit."

But the Democrats charge Coburn has a record of shortchanging Oklahoma. Political Ad: "He says he likes good roads, but in Washington, Congressman Tom Coburn repeatedly voted against improving our roads, actually turning down fund for Oklahoma Roads." That claim is true - Coburn did turn down some money for Oklahoma's roads, he says because it came along with an extraordinary amount of pork barrel projects. Coburn believes the unnecessary road projects cut into social security.

Political Ad: "Tom Coburn wrote critical legislation to reduce wasteful government spending, preventing billions of dollars from being raided from the social security trust fund." That claim is true too, but reaches to make it sound like Coburn saved social security. He didn't of course, but it might have been worse off without him. But it's Carson that reaches a bit in his ad.

Political Ad: "I believe seniors should be able to get less expensive prescriptions from Canada but that's not enough. Tom Coburn is against any Medicare drug benefit.” Coburn is against expanding the drug benefit. He says the government can't afford it. But Coburn supports importing cheaper drugs from Canada. Social Security and Medicare are the big issues, at least in the advertising.

Carson says Medicare needs expanding - Coburn warns the government doesn't have the money to pay for Medicare as it is.