Back to the Future: Mitch McConnell edition

 "It's Time for New Leadership in Washington"

As a political junkie, I like good campaign ads. Matt Bevin, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Republican primary in Kentucky, is out with a powerful new ad that reminds voters how Senator McConnell originally made his way to Washington.

Using McConnell’s own words from 1984, Bevin reminds voters McConnell charged Walter “Dee” Huddleston, his incumbent opponent:

“The Kentucky Senior Senator voted 20 times since he’s been there for spending money that we didn’t have. In other words, increasing the debt ceiling or for budget deficits.

“And now as we move toward the election year, he complains about the deficits and acts like a fiscal conservative. We’re all suffering. And our future as Kentuckians depend on obviously people like our Senator, who has let us down.

CNN’s John King: Obama Is Not Welcome In Key 2014 States

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John King makes note of President Obama’s absence on the campaign trail in key states and his toxicity, which could haunt Democrats in the 2014 mid-term election. “The one person we don’t see on the road yet…is the President,” King said. “We know he’s not welcome in Kentucky, we know he’s not welcome in Arkansas.”

KY Senate: Grimes won’t say if she’ll campaign with Obama

Alison Lundergan Grimes

While many vulnerable Senate Democrats are making it clear that the don’t want to be seen on the campaign trail with President Barack Obama, Alison Lundergan Grimes is trying to skirt the question.

During an appearance yesterday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Grimes, who is the likely Democratic nominee in the Kentucky Senate race, was asked directly about campaigning with President Obama. Rather than answer, she tried to deflect by claiming that she is independent of her party.

“This race is one that’s about putting the people of this state first, and I speak for myself and don’t need any other surrogate to do that,” said Grimes, who is campaigning with Bill Clinton today. “I stand in stark contrast to the President in many of his ideas and platforms.”

John McCain: Mitch McConnell faces a “very tough” race

John McCain and Mitch McConnell

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) didn’t help Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) yesterday. Shortly after a handful of Senate Republicans helped Democrats hand President Obama a blank check to raise the debt ceiling, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee acknowledged that McConnell faces a “very tough race” back home and that his vote on the debt hike could come back to hurt him:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., thinks he faces a “tough” battle, made tougher by his vote to break a filibuster of the debt limit increase.

“I must say that it was a very courageous act, especially Sen. McConnell, who — as you well know — is in a very tough race,” McCain told Politico on Wednesday, in an apparent allusion to the fact that the vote gives his primary challenger, Matt Bevin, political ammunition against McConnell.

Sixty-seven senators voted to end debate on the debt limit increase, though McConnell and the rest of the Senate Republicans voted against the debt limit increase itself.

KY Senate: Matt Bevin says McConnell can’t win this fall

Matt Bevin

At an event sponsored by FreedomWorks PAC, Matt Bevin cited recent polls as evidence that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can’t win this fall, telling media in attendance that Kentucky voters should try something new:

In remarks at a Washington event sponsored by the tea party-affiliated group FreedomWorks PAC, Bevin painted himself as the only Republican who can beat Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in what is already among the most high-profile races of the 2014 midterm cycle.

“We run a tremendous risk of losing this seat in Kentucky to someone who does not represent Kentucky values,” Bevin said. “We run the risk of losing this seat because of a sense of apathy and a sense of fatigue for the career politician that is my opponent in this primary, Mitch McConnell.”
“There are many reasons why who I am as a real person, in the real world, resonates with people,” Bevin told reporters, pointing to his family, military and business experience.

He added that Grimes “cannot get the anti-Mitch vote when she’s running against me. That’s a significant chunk of the voting bloc that are simply voting against him.”

The Courier-Journal and WKYT released a poll last week which found Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, leading McConnell by 4 points, 46/42. The poll also found that McConnell’s approval rating is underwater, at 32/60. By contrast, President Obama’s approval rating is at 34/60.

Today in Liberty: January jobs report disappoints, Biden can’t think of a reason not to run in 2016

“The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.” — Daniel Webster

— January jobs report lower than expectations: The Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that 113,000 jobs were created in January. The unemployment rate fell to 6.6%. Economists predicted a net-gain of 180,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain at 6.7%. ADP estimated this week that 175,000 jobs were created last month. The labor participation rate rose slight to 63%, up from 62.8% in January, a 35-year low. The December report was revised upward, though marginally, from 74,000 to 75,000 jobs.

— McConnell trails in Kentucky: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) trails his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, by 4 points, according to a new Lexington Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll. Just 32% of Kentuckians approve of McConnell’s job performance, while 60% disapprove, which is actually worse than President Obama’s approval rating (34/60) in the state. Grimes also holds a 5-point lead over Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell in the GOP primary. The only bright spot for McConnell is that he holds a 26-point lead over Bevin among primary voters.

KY Senate: McConnell tied with Dem challenger, Bevin leads

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can’t be happy with the latest poll out of Kentucky, released yesterday by Rasmussen Reports. It’s not that he finds himself in an unusual position against his Democratic challenger, but rather than his primary opponent is outperforming him.

The poll found that McConnell is tied with Alison Lundergan Grimes, at 42/42. That’s on par with other recent polls, which have found the Kentucky Republican holding slight, statistically insignificant leads.

McConnell’s Republican primary challenger, Matt Bevin, however, holds a 4-point lead over Grimes, at 40/36, just inside the margin of error.

Though the poll didn’t offer any hint of McConnell’s approval ratings, Rasmussen did measure voter favorability of the three candidates.

Kentucky voters have a mixed view of Grimes, who is viewed favorably by 40%, while 37% hold an unfavorable view. Bevin isn’t well known, but 32% have a favorable view. The same number said that they’d never heard of him. Twenty-six percent (26%) view him unfavorably.

McConnell’s numbers aren’t bad, though he’s still underwater, with 46% holding a favorable of the Senate minority leader and 49% expressing an unfavorable opinion.

As one might imagine, Bevin gloated about the numbers.

“These poll numbers are an accurate reflection of what I see and hear every day traveling across the Commonwealth,” said Bevin in a statement. “Kentuckians have had enough of career politicians like Mitch McConnell who compromise our conservative principles and instead vote for Obamacare, bailouts, amnesty and tax increases.”

Ted Cruz knocks Obama’s proposed “promise zones”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) isn’t too fond of President Barack Obama’s proposed “promise zones,” the latest gimmick from the White House in its latest push to focus on economic inequality. In fact, the Texas senator says that the economic policies pushed by the administration have led to inequality.

“It’s altogether fitting that President Obama is today talking about income inequality because income inequality has increased dramatically as a direct result of his economic policies,” said Cruz yesterday in a statement. “Out-of-control government spending, debt, taxes, and regulations have killed millions of jobs. Unfortunately, rather than stop Washington’s job-killing policies, President Obama proposes yet more government spending and debt.”

The so-called “promise zones” purport to “create jobs, increase economic security, expand access to educational opportunities and quality, affordable housing and improve public safety.” The cost of the proposal hasn’t been released, but The Detroit News points to an administration memo from last month which stated that designated areas “will not receive direct funding, but will benefit from technical assistance, federal staff support, and more extensive preference points and access to other federal grant programs.”

Paul, McConnell introduce Economic Freedom Zones Act in Senate

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) formally introduced a measure on Wednesday to empower impoverished cities by giving them and their residents a break from the onerous federal tax and regulatory burdens which keep them from prosperity in tough economic times.

The Economic Freedom Zones Act of 2013 would lower personal and corporate income tax rates in cities, counties or zip codes that meets certain criteria, such as those that have either filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy and an unemployment rate of 1.5 times the national average. The measure would also provide federal regulatory relief, including exemptions from onerous EPA rules that result in the loss of federal highway and transit funds and Davis-Bacon prevailing wage work requirements.

“In order to change our course, we must reverse the trend toward more Big Government by ending the corporate welfare and crony capitalism that limits choice and stifles competition,” said Paul in a statement. “We must encourage policies that will lift up the individual, allow for the creation of new jobs, improve the school system and get these communities back to work.”

“The answer to poverty and unemployment is not another government bailout; it is simply leaving more money in the hands of those who earned it. The Economic Freedom Zones Act of 2013 will do just that,” he added.

Kentucky Republicans file brief at Supreme Court, seek to end Obama’s war on coal

Republican members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation have filed an amicus brief in a pending case at the Supreme Court which could have big implications on the Commonwealth’s coal industry and, by extension, its economy.

The case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, deals with regulations enacted by the Obama Administration in 2010 that would impose stricter limits on emissions from “stationary sources,” such as coal-fired plants. The EPA claims this authority through a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, which allowed the agency to regulate vehicle emissions.

The problem is that the EPA essentially re-wrote provisions of the Clean Air Act to raise the emissions threshold to 75,000 tons per year from 100 tons, which, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, “would require some six million buildings to get environmental permits, including such grand polluters as churches and farms.”

“Recognizing that such a rule would create ‘absurd results’ like shuttering the entire economy, the EPA rewrote Congress’s numbers and adjusted the threshold to 75,000 tons from 100 tons,” the Journal explained. “EPA’s clear political purpose was to escape a large political backlash to its new rules by unilaterally limiting their reach.”

Kentucky Republicans argue that the EPA has overstepped its bounds by trying to re-write the law, thus usurping power from the legislative branch, and promulgate new rules that would hurt the coal industry.

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