Louisville Activists Call On McConnell To Hold Trump Accountable Tuesday, Aug 22 2017 

About two-dozen demonstrators held signs and delivered speeches Tuesday outside the Louisville office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demanding that McConnell hold President Donald Trump accountable for comments he made following this month’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Louisville protest was organized by Melissa Byrne of the group UltraViolet. According to its Facebook page, the group “works on a range of issues, including health care, economic security, violence, and reproductive rights.”

“Mitch McConnell refuses to call for Trump’s impeachment, resignation or censure after his comments equivocating and supporting the white supremacists in Charlottesville,” Byrne said.

At a news conference following the Charlottesville rally, Trump said that “both sides” were to blame for violence that erupted at the rally and that there were some “very fine people” among those marching to protect Confederate statues.

Byrne said McConnell needs to do more to hold Trump accountable for his remarks.

“It’s actually beyond vocal,” she said. “It’s easy to put out a tweet or a statement. He needs to back up his words with action.”

When asked for a response, McConnell’s office on Tuesday pointed to comments the senator has made condemning the “hate and bigotry witnessed in Charlottesville” and his statement that there are “no good neo-Nazis.”

“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred,” McConnell said in a statement last week. “There are no good neo-nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”

In Louisville, McConnell, Mnuchin Say Debt Ceiling Increase Will Happen Monday, Aug 21 2017 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there is “zero chance” Congress will allow the country to default on its debt by voting to not increase the borrowing limit.

McConnell’s comments came Monday during a joint appearance in Louisville with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin said it is his “strong preference” that Congress pass a “clean” increase to the debt limit, meaning the legislation would have no other proposals attached to it that would make it more difficult to pass. He also said simplifying the nation’s tax code is a priority.

“What we’re trying to do, on the personal side, is simplify taxes,” he said. “Taxes are way, way too complicated. By raising the standard deduction, by limiting deductions, 95 percent of Americans will be able to fill out their taxes on a large postcard.”

McConnell did not comment on Mnuchin’s request for a clean debt ceiling increase, but vowed to “get the job done.”

He also didn’t mention Trump during his remarks. These were McConnell’s first public comments since the president publicly criticized him for failing to pass a repeal of former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

As far as the health care law goes, McConnell said the way forward on making dramatic changes is “murky.”

Last month, the Republican-led Senate failed to muster enough votes for a partial repeal of the ACA.

McConnell said moving forward, Republican leaders will look for some common ground with Democrats to revive the effort.

“The Democrats have been pretty uninterested in any reforms,” McConnell said. “They’re really interested in sending money to insurance companies, but not very interested in reforms.   So when we get back after Labor Day we’ll have to sit down and talk to them and see what the way forward might be.”

Jim DuPlessis Should Follow His Own Advice. Thursday, Aug 17 2017 

Jim DuPlessis had this to say in a Hardin County News Enterprise article he penned: “All too often people will read and believe whatever they see as long as it supports their political belief structure.” We can agree with that … Continue reading →

The post Jim DuPlessis Should Follow His Own Advice. appeared first on Hillbilly Report.

McConnell: White nationalist rally not welcome in Kentucky, as ‘there are no good neo-Nazis’ Wednesday, Aug 16 2017 

Sen. Mitch McConnell issued a statement Wednesday morning denouncing a planned rally of white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Lexington, saying this group’s “messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America.” Though McConnell’s statement did not directly mention President Donald Trump, it did draw a distinct […]

McConnell Condemns White Supremacists Planning Lexington Rally Wednesday, Aug 16 2017 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned white supremacists who are gearing up for a rally in Lexington in response to plans to remove statues of Confederate generals from city property.

“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred,” McConnell said in a statement. “There are no good neo-nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray called for the removal of the likenesses of Confederate generals John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckenridge from city property in the wake of the Charlottesville rally.

Tuesday, the city’s Urban-County Council advanced a proposal to move the monuments to Veterans Memorial Park on the outskirts of town.

One person died and more than 30 were injured in the Charlottesville rally, where a driver rammed a car into a group of counter-protesters. Two Virginia state troopers also died in a related helicopter crash.

Removal of Confederate symbols is a contentious issue in Kentucky.

Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday said that removing Confederate monuments amounts to a “sanitization of history,” comparing it to actions conducted by authoritarian regimes. Bevin had previously advocated for the removal of a white marble statue of Jefferson Davis from the state capitol rotunda.

Meanwhile, the state’s NAACP is renewing its year-long efforts to remove the statue.

McConnell’s statement comes after President Donald Trump doubled down on his position that violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was the fault of rally-goers and counter-protesters. McConnell did not address the president’s remarks.

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Trump also expressed common cause with white supremacists rallying against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

“This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed Stonewall Jackson is coming down,” Trump said, “I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

McConnell has been silent about Trump’s response to the Charlottesville rally.

During the Tuesday news conference, Trump was flanked by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife.

Chao told reporters afterwards that the president — and her husband — still have her support.

“I stand by my man, both of them,” she said.

Former Gov. Beshear Praises Republicans Who Helped Stymie ACA Repeal Friday, Jul 28 2017 

Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says he’s “thrilled’ that three Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted against the latest attempt to repeal elements of the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats and three Republican senators — John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — voted against the “skinny repeal” bill, dramatically preventing supporters from securing the 50 votes needed to pass it.

Beshear called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for leading the charge to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“It’s unconscionable that Mitch McConnell would be ‘proud’ of his vote to rip away health care from the most vulnerable residents of the commonwealth,” Beshear said in a statement.

“Today, every Kentuckian who has benefited from this law can rest easier. But the work isn’t finished. Now Democrats and Republicans need to put politics aside, put people first, and work together to improve this law, and they need to do it immediately.”

Beshear, a Democrat, embraced the health care policy during his governorship. He expanded the state’s Medicaid system by making more people eligible for the program — leading to about 460,000 Kentuckians getting health coverage.

Another 86,000 got health insurance through the state health exchange, which Beshear created by executive order.

Since Beshear’s actions, Kentucky Republicans have successfully campaigned against Obamacare in recent elections.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin won his office in 2015 promising to scale back the health programs. He has applied to change the state’s Medicaid system by requiring most recipients to pay small monthly premiums and prove that they’re working or doing community service.

McConnell has been the most visible critic of the Affordable Care Act, crafting a series of proposals that attempted to unite Republicans against the policy.

The most recent attempt would have done away with the requirement for large companies to provide health insurance to employees and eliminated the mandate for people to have insurance or pay a penalty.

It also would have allowed states to permit insurance companies to provide plans that don’t meet Obamacare requirements like covering pre-existing conditions and maternity care.

McConnell called the failure “a disappointing moment.”

“I regret that we’re here, but I want to say again that I’m proud of the vote I cast tonight,” McConnell said. “It’s consistent with what we told the American people we’d try to accomplish in four straight elections if they gave us the chance.”

Republicans in Kentucky have criticized the state’s participation in Obamacare.

Five companies that sold insurance on the state’s health exchange in 2016 pulled out of the program for 2017. The remaining companies are charging higher premiums.

The federal government shouldered 100 percent of the additional costs of the program until last year, when Kentucky had to pay for 5 percent of the expansion, about $109 million.

Starting in 2020, the state will have to pay 10 percent, or about $409 million.

Starting next fiscal year, Kentucky will have to start paying more for its Medicaid expansion, which is currently 100 percent subsidized by the federal government.

Meanwhile the number of Kentuckians who don’t have health coverage has dropped from more than 20 percent of the state’s population to less than 8 percent since Obamacare.

Some Big Names To Skip Fancy Farm But Politics, BBQ Still On Menu Tuesday, Jul 25 2017 

(Featured image: Crowd at Fancy Farm 2016)

The annual Fancy Farm picnic and political speaking event takes place next week in far-west Kentucky’s Graves County.

Though no major elections are scheduled to take place this year, state political leaders will still roll up their shirt sleeves and hurl insults at each other during the 137th iteration of the charity event.

Gov. Matt Bevin has declined an invitation to speak, citing a scheduling conflict. That means a public showdown between the Republican governor and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear will have to wait for another year.

Beshear says he will be in attendance — he missed the event last year to attend a family event.

Other confirmed speakers include Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover, Democratic House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins and Republican U.S. Rep. James Comer, whose district includes the area.

Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have not confirmed their attendance and are expected to be absent because the regularly scheduled August recess for Congress has been pushed back to allow Republicans time to hash out an Obamacare repeal plan.

St. Jerome’s Catholic Church has hosted the Fancy Farm Picnic since its inception in the 1880s. Each year, volunteers barbecue several tons of pork and mutton to sell to more than 10,000 attendees.

The political portion of the event has evolved into a raucous affair where speakers insult and tease opponents while the crowd heckles and chants.

There are no statewide or legislative races scheduled this year, which could dampen the frenetic energy of recent Fancy Farm picnics.

Last year’s picnic was notable because of the presidential election, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s challenge of incumbent Sen. Rand Paul and races for the state House of Representatives —  which ultimately led to Republicans gaining control of the chamber for the first time in nearly a century.

The year before, Bevin defied expectations by winning a crowded primary election and later winning the Kentucky governorship, becoming only the second Republican to do so in more than four decades.

Bevin criticized the bombastic tone of the Fancy Farm speeches over the last two years, though the rowdy atmosphere hasn’t abated.

This year’s event will be emceed by former Democratic House Speaker Bobby Richardson, who left the General Assembly in 1990.

Recent emcees have alternated between representatives of the two major political parties — Republican operative Scott Jennings last year, and Kentucky Sports Radio Host Matt Jones, a Democrat, the year before.

The picnic will be held on Saturday, August 5 at 10 a.m. CST with the political speaking beginning at 2 p.m. and aired live on KET.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • State Sen. Stan Humphries, Republican
  • State Rep. Richard Heath, Republican
  • U.S. Rep. James Comer, Republican
  • House Speaker Jeff Hoover, Republican
  • House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, Democrat
  • Attorney General Andy Beshear, Democrat
  • Agriculture Commission Ryan Quarles, Republican
  • State Auditor Mike Harmon, Republican

Organizers are still waiting for confirmation from the following:

  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican
  • U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, Republican
  • Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Democrat
  • Treasurer Allison Ball, Republican
  • Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton, Republican
  • State Senate President Robert Stivers, Republican

McConnell: Senate Will ‘Defer’ Vote On Republican Health Care Bill Sunday, Jul 16 2017 

The Senate will postpone its consideration of the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act until Sen. John McCain returns to Washington.

The Republican senator from Arizona is recovering from brain surgery performed Friday to remove a nearly 2-inch blood clot from above his left eye. The surgery was described as a “minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision.”

“The Senator is resting comfortably at home and is in good condition,” according to his doctors at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, relayed in a statement from McCain’s office. He’s in “good spirits” after the “surgery went ‘very well.’ “

The tissue that was removed is undergoing analysis, and McCain’s office says results should be available within the next several days.

Shortly after McCain’s office released the statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell clarified what the news meant for the vote on the Republican health care bill planned for next week.

“While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations, and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act,” McConnell said in a statement he posted to Twitter.

McConnell had been in a rush to get the bill to a vote, in part because it was thought more time wouldn’t help and could hurt the chance for passage.

And the Republican senator’s absence from the Capitol next week would have complicated the already tight math surrounding a planned Senate health care vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Two Republican senators have already announced opposition to the measure, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. With McCain away, unless one of those two senators changes their mind, Senate Republican leaders are unlikely to meet the 50-vote threshold needed to begin debate on the bill.

A chorus of senators weighed in on McCain’s recovery via Twitter, including the Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Sen. Jeff Flake, also from Arizona, put out a statement, saying he and his wife were praying for a speedy recovery.

“I have never known a man more tenacious and resilient than John McCain,” Sen. Flake said. “I look forward to seeing him back at work soon.”

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pence Tells Kentucky Group Bipartisan Obamacare Fix Not Possible Thursday, Jul 13 2017 

Vice President Mike Pence stopped in Lexington Wednesday to listen to the complaints of business owners who don’t like Obamacare.

The event was part of the White House’s effort to fulfill a campaign promise to repeal the law, but Republicans have had trouble building a consensus over how to go about doing that.

Terry Bryant, owner of the party supply warehouse where Pence’s listening session took place, called on Pence to work with Democrats on an Obamacare solution.

“Talking with my employees they want to see, sir, a bipartisan solution,” said Bryant, owner of Bryant’s Rent-All. “They don’t want to see this come up in another four years or eight years. They said it would be great if we can do that. That’s what we need. This is the American people, not some group here or some group there.”

Pence told Bryant a bipartisan bill wouldn’t be possible.

“Would that we could do it on a bipartisan basis, as other major legislative initiatives have happened in the past,” Pence said. “I would say from early on in this Congress, the minority party in the House and the Senate has made it clear they want no part of it.”

During a speech after the listening session, Pence promised an Obamacare replacement bill would pass by the end of summer. But that’s going to be an uphill battle. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes to get the bill out of the Senate. And so far, Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul, says he won’t vote for the plan because it’s not conservative enough.

Pence’s listening session was focused on small-business owners who said the Affordable Care Act has hurt their businesses through rising costs and mandates.

Under Obamacare, companies that employ more than 50 people have to provide insurance for employees that work more than 30 hours a week on average.

Jim Akers is the chief operating officer of Bluegrass Stockards in Lexington. He told Pence that he doesn’t like the policy because it forces him to provide insurance to workers he wouldn’t otherwise.

“It forces us constantly to get that call from the accounting office saying, ‘Hey, you know Bob got 33 hours last week, we’ve got to do something,'” Akers said. “I don’t like that relationship because it changes the culture of our business.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 22 million people would lose health coverage if the Senate’s bill becomes law — mostly through the gradual phase out of funding for expanded Medicaid programs in states like Kentucky.

The commonwealth added about 460,000 people to its Medicaid rolls through the expansion.

Gary Watkins, president of Wabuck Development in Leitchfield, said welfare programs like Medicaid discourage unemployed people from finding jobs.

“It is very needful that they be a producer of resources and have a value and a self esteem that they can come home with and not only for themselves but that they can pass onto their children as well,” Watkins said.

McConnell released a new version of the healthcare bill on Thursday — allowing insurers to provide cheaper plans with fewer benefits, adding provisions that allow people to pay for insurance tax-free using health savings accounts and setting aside money to fight the opioid epidemic.

The new version still phases out funding for state Medicaid expansions.

McConnell said he wants to pass the bill without votes from Democrats despite Republicans’ razor-thin majority in the Senate.

McConnell Says He’ll Rework Health Bill, But Offers Plan B Friday, Jul 7 2017 

GLASGOW, Ky. (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he plans to produce a fresh bill in about a week scuttling and replacing much of President Barack Obama’s health care law. But he’s also acknowledging a Plan B if that effort continues to flounder.

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday.

It was one of his most explicit concessions that a top priority for President Donald Trump and the entire GOP, erasing much of Obama’s landmark 2010 statute, might fall short.

He provided no details during remarks he made at a Rotary Club lunch in a deep-red, conservative rural area of southern Kentucky.

Previously, other Republicans have said that if their broad drive to dismantle much of Obama’s law struggled, a smaller bill with quick help for insurers and consumers might be needed. They’ve said it could include provisions continuing federal payments to insurers that help them contain costs for some low earners and inducements to keep healthy people buying policies — a step that helps curb premiums.

Reaching Across the Aisle

McConnell’s comments suggested that to show progress on health care, Republicans controlling the White House and Congress might have to negotiate with Democrats. While the current, wide-ranging GOP health care bill has procedural protections against a Democratic Senate filibuster, a subsequent, narrower measure wouldn’t and would take 60 votes to pass.

The broader repeal effort that McConnell prefers would fail if just three of the 52 Republicans vote no, since all Democrats oppose it. He was forced to cancel a vote on the measure last week after far more Republicans than that objected, and he’s been spending the Independence Day recess studying changes that might win over GOP dissidents.

“We have an obligation to the American people to try and improve what we currently have. What we do know is the status quo is not sustainable,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called it encouraging that McConnell had “opened the door to bipartisan solutions.” He said the focus should be on continuing the federal payments to insurers, which Trump has threatened to halt.

Democrats have said they won’t negotiate until Republicans abandon their repeal effort.

McConnell’s comments came during a recess that has produced no visible evidence that he’s winnowed the number of unhappy Republican senators. If anything, the list seemed to have grown, as Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he opposed the bill but was vague about changes he’d want.

At least a dozen GOP senators have publicly opposed or criticized the legislation. Many are expected to be won over by revisions McConnell is concocting.

Republicans have said Obama’s law is failing, citing markets around the country where insurers have pulled out or sharply boosted premiums. Some areas are down to a single insurer.

Democrats acknowledge Obama’s law needs changes that would help curb the growth of health care costs. But they say the GOP is exaggerating the problem and note that several insurers have attributed their decisions to stop selling policies in unprofitable areas, in part, to Trump administration indications that it may halt payments to insurers. A federal court has ruled the payments weren’t authorized by Congress but has allowed them to temporarily continue.

22 Million

In its report last week on the Senate bill, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that under Obama’s law, it expected health care markets “to be stable in most areas.”

It said the same about the Senate legislation. But it also said under the GOP bill, 22 million added Americans would be uninsured because it would eliminate Obama’s tax penalty on people who don’t buy coverage and it would cut Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, disabled and many nursing home patients.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Thursday on San Antonio’s KTSA Radio that the GOP’s Senate majority “is so narrow, I don’t know if we can get it done or not.”

Cruz encountered hecklers at a town hall meeting in Austin. One man asked him to use the law’s formal name, the Affordable Care Act, instead of Obamacare.

“You can request it. But I’m gonna decline,” Cruz responded.

Qualms were also voiced by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

“There are people who tell me they are better off” under Obama’s law, “and I believe them,” Moran said at a town hall meeting Thursday in Palco, Kansas. Moran, who’d previously said he doesn’t support the bill, said health care is “almost impossible to solve” with the slim GOP majority in the Senate.

McConnell said he expected to have a new version of the legislation ready in “a week or so.” Another Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, suggested it may take longer.

“We’re still several weeks away from a vote, I think,” Toomey said Wednesday before a live studio audience at WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
___
Fram reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and John Hanna in Palco, Kansas, contributed to this report.

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