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.”
FreedomWorks PAC has endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) primary challenger, Matt Bevin, the grassroots organization announced yesterday, adding to the already contentious, polarizing race.
“For far too long Mitch McConnell has sat on the sidelines of pivotal fights, helping the Democrats pass unprecedented surveillance powers, the TARP/Wall Street bailout, numerous tax hikes and debt ceiling increases, and Medicare Part D,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks PAC.
“Most recently,” Kibbe continued, “he orchestrated the McConnell-Reid sellout bargain to increase the debt limit and fully fund a broken health care law, getting a $1.2 billion ‘special project kickback’ in the process. Kentucky deserves better, and looking at the dropping poll numbers for McConnell, there’s no reason to settle.”
“Now more than ever, we need strong fiscal conservatives who will fight to cut spending on the front lines, not the sidelines. Matt Bevin is a great upgrade for Kentuckians who are serious about transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability in government,” he added.
McConnell’s campaign has denied responsibility for the “special project kickback” — funding for a river lock project on the Ohio-Kentucky border — to which Kibbe referred in his statement. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) reportedly requested the earmark.
During a campaign event last week for Alison Lungren Grimes, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) told fellow Democrats that compared the prospect of beating Mitch McConnell to liberating Europe from the Nazis.
“You know, we’ve got a lot of people who came here tonight to celebrate, and I had to speak to the crowd when we kicked off this campaign back in July in Lexington,” Stumbo told the crowd on Thursday. “It reminded me of the feeling our troops must have had when they liberated the European nations after World War II.”
“Can you imagine what it felt like that you were liberating a country? Well, you’re about to liberate your state from the worst reign of misabuse that we’ve seen in the last 30 years,” he said to cheers. “You’re about to give us hope.”
The Nazis were responsible for the deaths of some 11 million people, including Holocaust victims. Nearly 293,000 members of the United States military died liberating Europe from Nazi oppression.
In November 2012, President Barack Obama claimed that the global temperature is”increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago,” adding that further carbon emissions regulations were needed to combat climate change.
But Gina McCarthy, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was unable to corroborate that claim yesterday when pressed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing.
The exchange was tense. Sessions pointed to a chart showing that the global temperature had flatlined in recent years, despite predictions that it would rise to dramatic levels. A recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) draft report found that there had been a pause in warming over the last 15 years.
McCarthy said that she didn’t know what the context of President Obama’s claim, adding her belief that 2010 was the “warmest year on record.” That claim, however, is meaningless, which even noted climate alarmist James Hansen has admitted.
As Sessions continued to press her on President Obama’s claims, the EPA chief interrupted him, prompting the Alabama senator to ask, “Do I not have the right to ask the director of EPA a simple question that is relevant to the dispute that is before us?”
“Is the temperature around the globe increasing faster than was predicted, even 10 years ago?” Sessions prodded.
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.
In the midst of a complete surrender over the hard-fought spending cuts in the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011, congressional Republicans are talking out loud about making demands to raise the debt ceiling in the spring.
For example, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who brokered the budget deal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), noted over the weekend that House Republicans “don’t want ‘nothing’ out of the debt limit” and would “decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight.” He later indicated that one potential trade off could be approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doubted that Congress would approve a clean debt ceiling hike. “I think the debt ceiling legislation is a time that brings us all together and gets the president’s attention, which with this president, particularly when it comes to reducing spending, has been a bit of a challenge,” said McConnell this week, according to Politico.
The deal reached during the government shutdown funded the government until January 15 and raised the debt ceiling to February 7. With the budget issue almost certainly out of the way, assuming the Senate passes it, the focus in Congress will be on the debt ceiling.
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.
Conservative groups criticized by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week aren’t backing down from their opposition to the budget deal. One of the groups has fired back at Republican congressional leaders for what it calls a “war on conservatives.”
The Senate Conservatives Fund sent out a fundraising email blast to supporters on Monday blasting Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for comments the two have made that are hostile to conservative activists.
“House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) joined Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last week in declaring war on conservatives,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a PAC founded in 2008 by then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
“John Boehner called conservatives ‘ridiculous’ for opposing the budget agreement that increases spending, raises taxes, and funds Obamacare while Mitch McConnell previously called us stupid ‘traitors’ who should be locked in a bar and ‘punched in the nose,’” he said, adding that Republican leaders don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and most members of the Democratic conference voted today to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for executive nominations, excluding Supreme Court appointments, after Republicans blocked three appointments to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Executive nominees now need only 51 votes to win confirmation from the Senate. The change was approved by the Senate by a vote of 52 to 48. Three Democrats — Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — joined every Senate Republican to vote against the rule change.
Reid complained that Republicans had forced him to call for the change in Senate rules because of, what he called, “unprecedented obstruction” and claimed that the it’s “something both sides should be willing to live with to make Washington work again.”
“The American people are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock. The American people – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock,” said Reid from the Senate floor. “The American people want Washington to work for American families once again.”
The rule change is an attempt to change the narrative. President Obama and Democrats have talked up “gridlock” in government to get attention off of the problems with Obamacare. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made that point to colleagues this morning.
The security problems on the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, have already received a lot of attention. These issues were one of many focal points during recent congressional hearings over the site, after instances of privacy breaches, including one user who logged in and was given personal information for other applicants.
Members grilled HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on this particular point, and she couldn’t guarantee that the site was secure. Now we know why. CBS News reports that memos from those working on the site found that the security risks are “limitless,” apparently keeping the project manager in the dark (emphasis added):
CBS News has learned that the project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website’s security. Those failures could lead to identity theft among buying insurance. The project manager testified to congressional investigators behind closed doors, but CBS News has obtained the first look at a partial transcript of his testimony.