In Other News… Rand Paul on ACA, Taco Bell’s new product, Lawrence in absentia Friday, Jan 13 2017 

Affordable Care Act: In the early morning hours this past Thursday, the Senate passed step one in its repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, says CNN, NBC News and New York Magazine. The Senate voted 51-48 along party lines. It wasn’t a complete slam dunk for Republicans, however, as one of […]

Rand Paul Might Stop An Obamacare Repeal. Here’s How Thursday, Jan 5 2017 

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he would not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare, without voting for a replacement plan on the same day. He made the comments on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“Here’s the great irony, this week we’re going to vote on a budget,” he said. “Everybody is hot and heavy to vote on this budget because they want to repeal Obamacare. But the budget they’re going to introduce will add $8.8 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years. So I told them look, I’m not going to vote for a budget that never balances.”

Paul formed the Senate’s first Tea Party Caucus and has said balancing the budget should be a more important priority than doing away with the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday, he met with members from the House Freedom Caucus to drum up opposition to the repeal if there’s no immediate replacement plan.

Congress is currently examining a process to repeal parts of the law, including the individual and employer mandates that say individuals must have health insurance, and that large employers must offer it to employees. If the bill is approved, these provisions would go away immediately.

The Medicaid expansion program and subsidies for people to buy insurance on the individual market would go away in 2019 or possibly after under the GOP plan. The part of ACA that keeps insurers from barring people with pre-existing conditions from coverage, and other consumer protections, wouldn’t be touched.

The reason why it would cost so much money, as Paul said, is Republicans don’t have a replacement plan.

Budget Buster

Imagine all the money that went into paying for Medicaid expansion, the subsidies and all the other little parts you have never even heard of – as a pie.

Most of the money pie are taken up by paying for the new people on Medicaid expansion and for people with subsidies for marketplace coverage. But those programs were paid for with new taxes on the health care sector.

So you get the money from the pie back, but then that has to go toward making up for the loss of those taxes.

The $8.8 trillion figure comes from a report by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan public policy think tank.

“Repealing the entire ACA would leave no funds available for ‘replacement’ legislation, and in fact would require” lawmakers to come up with other ways to save money to not contribute to the national debt, the group says.

Under repeal, 30 million more people would become uninsured by 2019, which is higher than the uninsured population pre-health law, according to the Urban Institute’s analysis of the budget resolution that would do away with the law.

Health policy expert Edwin Park said what is likely to happen if this repeal goes through without a replacement is the collapse of the insurance market.

“You’d have consumer protections like the prohibition against denying coverage with people with pre-existing conditions remaining in place, but at the same time no subsidies to buy coverage in that market, no individual mandate,” said Park, who is vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research and analysis group. “As a result, the only individuals who are likely to enroll are likely those who are sickest.”

Paul echoed that sentiment on “Morning Joe.”

“There are many health care analysts who are predicting bankruptcy for insurance companies and a massive insurance company bailout within first 6 months of repeal,” he said. “Adverse selection gets worse if you get rid of the individual mandate.”

On Wednesday, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said in a news conference that Democrats have no plans to help Republicans come up with a replacement for the ACA.

“It’s not the Democrats that would be pushing 20 million people off insurance,” he said. “It’s the GOP’s obligation to come up with a proposal.”

The Mighty In Other News…2016 Year in Review Friday, Dec 30 2016 

Well, well, well, 2016. We can call you a lot of things, but boring isn’t one of them. Nyquist was the favorite for your 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby, and for good reason, it turns out. He won. Lexington’s Chris Stapleton took home a couple of Grammy awards for “Best Country Album of the […]

Rand Paul Checks Trump On Secretary Of State Picks Wednesday, Dec 7 2016 

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has become an outspoken assessor of President-elect Donald Trump’s potential nominees for secretary of state, going out of his way to criticize several candidates for their hawkish foreign policy views.

Paul, a non-interventionist who has clashed with his party on foreign policy issues during his first term in office, is in a rare position to influence who Trump taps to be the next secretary of state.

A nominee would have to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, with 10 Republicans and 9 Democrats on the panel, Paul represents a key swing vote.

So far, Paul has publicly stated that he would not support the nomination of former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, citing his support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He’s also cast doubts on the prospects of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, questioning the candidates’ views on foreign intervention.

Kentucky’s junior senator and the president-elect were bitter rivals when the two were vying for the Republican nomination for president. Dropping out of the race in February, Paul was slow to support Trump’s nomination but eventually gave a quiet endorsement of the New York businessman.

Now Paul says he’s trying to make sure Trump picks “someone who agrees with Donald Trump.”

“Donald Trump said nation building was a problem, regime change was a problem, the Iraq War was a mistake,” Paul said on CNN last week.

Over the years, Paul has criticized the U.S. role in the Middle East, arguing that the country needs to be more selective about foreign involvement.

Paul has criticized the GOP for being “too eager to go to war” and also slammed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for being a “war hawk.”

In a 2014 speech, Paul said the country shouldn’t be “sentimental” about its foreign enemies, but “we also can’t be blind to the fact that drone strikes that inadvertently kill civilians may create more jihadists than we eliminate.”

Paul has also cast doubt on Trump’s consideration of retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus for secretary of state, questioning how Republicans could confirm him “with a straight face.”

In 2015, Petraeus pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information; during the presidential race this year, Republicans skewered Democratic nominee Clinton for using a private server to handle classified emails.

Rand Paul Cruises To Reelection Over Democrat Jim Gray Wednesday, Nov 9 2016 

Republican Sen. Rand Paul has won reelection to his seat, defeating Democratic challenger Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington.

Paul won all but seven of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

In his victory speech, Paul quoted the rock group Pink Floyd and said government needs to get out of the way of individuals’ creativity.

“The goal should be to set you free,” he said. “To leave you alone. To have a government so small you can barely see it.”

Paul is at the end of his first term in the Senate. He was part of a crowded field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president but suspended his campaign at the beginning of this year.

Paul rarely mentioned Gray’s name during the campaign, instead attacking Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Paul defeated Gray by 14 points. Gray won Fayette, Jefferson and a handful of other counties in the central part of the state.

In his concession speech, Gray said Democrats still have something to look forward to in Kentucky.

“We have earned the right to celebrate the good works of this campaign,” he said, adding that “our season is coming.”

Paul rode a Republican wave in Kentucky that also swept the presidential race and many state House elections in the state.

Here’s A Brief Guide To Election Day 2016 Sunday, Nov 6 2016 

You probably thought the day would never arrive, but Tuesday is Election Day.

In Kentucky, not only will voters choose a president, they’ll determine which political party controls the state House of Representatives (and perhaps the legislative agenda in Frankfort).

There’s also a bitter U.S. Senate race, and in Louisville, Congress and half of the Metro Council seats are on the ballot, along with school board races. We’ll have more coverage of those on Monday.

Kentucky Democrats have a lot to lose Tuesday. The state House is the last legislative chamber controlled by Democrats in any southern state. If Republicans can net four more seats, they’ll have power over the entire legislative process in Frankfort.

You can read some of our coverage of the battle over the Kentucky House here:

Kentucky Democrats, Republicans Pull Out All The Stops In Fight Over State House

McConnell: Ky. Needs GOP Control Of State House To Grow Economy

Will Donald Trump Help Republicans Win The State House?

 

Paul vs. Gray

In what began as a sleepy contest, the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Rand Paul and Democratic challenger Jim Gray finally heated up at this year’s Fancy Farm picnic.

Since then, the two men have lobbed attacks at one another — largely via news releases and written statements. That is, until they finally came face-to-face for their only debate on Halloween night.

Gray accused Paul of having “wild-ass philosophies and theories.” And Paul repeatedly tried to link Gray to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Obama (both are unpopular in the Bluegrass State.)

A poll released early on Monday by Runswitch PR showed Paul with a 10-point lead in the race.

You can read our coverage of the Senate race here:

When and where can I vote?

Polls open at 6 a.m. local time and close at 6 p.m. You can find your polling place and check out sample ballots here.

And if you see any problems at the polls, we want to know about it! WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting is one of several newsrooms across the country partnering with ProPublica for its Electionland project. Electionland aims to seek out and scrutinize any problems at the polls that prevent voters from participating in the 2016 election.

To learn how you can be involved, go here.

How long will I have to wait in line?

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes estimates 60 percent of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots on Tuesday. Grimes said that’s on par with the turnout from the 2012 presidential election, when 59 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In 2008, the turnout was 64 percent.

Who am I voting for?

In addition to choosing a new president, elections are also scheduled for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislative seats. In Louisville, 13 of 26 Metro Council seats are up for election, as well as school board seats.

When will I know who won?

We’ll be live on 89.3 WFPL beginning at 7 p.m. — that’s when polls close in Western Kentucky and when statewide results start rolling in. We’ll also have coverage throughout the evening at wfpl.org.

Hey Kentucky, Help Us Track Poll Problems On Tuesday Thursday, Nov 3 2016 

Kentuckians have heard allegations, intimations and forecasts of a “rigged” election and “large-scale voter fraud” in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election. Perhaps you saw them shared on Facebook, heard them from a candidate or in an email from a friend.

What gives?

Well, WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting is here to help sort it out.

KyCIR is one of several newsrooms across the country partnering with ProPublica for its Electionland project. Electionland aims to seek out and scrutinize any problems at the polls that prevent voters from participating in the 2016 election.

But we can’t be in every polling station. We need you.

Text ELECTIONLAND to 69866

Text ELECTIONLAND to 69866

Help report on your voting experience. Sign up now by texting ELECTIONLAND to 69866. That’s right, text that single word to 69866.

We’ll check in on Election Day to find out how long it took you to vote and whether you had or saw any problems.

We’d love to hear from you:

–How long did it take to vote? Did long lines cause people to walk away without casting ballots?

–Were there any issues with ballots or polling equipment? Were you or someone else wrongly turned away?

–Did you observe other people running into difficulties?

You can follow us on Twitter for updates from across Kentucky. Electionland will be providing nationwide updates on Twitter and online. Read more about the project here.

Grimes Predicts 60 percent Voter Turnout On Tuesday Wednesday, Nov 2 2016 

Kentucky’s top election official estimates 60 percent of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots on Tuesday.

Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said that’s on par with the turnout from the 2012 presidential election, when 59 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In 2008, the turnout was 64 percent.

Grimes said 47,000 people have cast in-person absentee ballots, up from 37,000 at this same time four years ago. The state has also issued 39,700 mail-in absentee ballots, of which 26,000 have been returned.

A record 3.3 million people are registered to vote in Tuesday’s election. For president, in addition to the Democratic and Republican candidates, Kentucky voters will have 23 registered write-in candidates to choose from. Elections are also scheduled for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislative seats.

Why Go There? A Linguist Dissects Jim Gray’s ‘Wild-Ass’ Zinger Tuesday, Nov 1 2016 

Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul and his opponent, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray squared off Tuesday night in their only face-to-face debate of the election season. For an hour, they talked about the future of coal, Kentucky’s heroin problem, and more.

But it was one particular turn of phrase, used by Gray, that caught people’s ears. It includes a word for the human posterior.

I looked into the phrase. Listen in the player above (or here) — without your kids in the room.

Jim Gray Accuses Rand Paul Of ‘Wild-Ass’ Ideas In Debate Monday, Oct 31 2016 

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray accused U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of having “wild-ass philosophies and theories” in their first and only face-to-face debate of the election year. The at times freewheeling event underscored the candidates’ differences on foreign policy and economic values.

Paul repeatedly tried to tie Gray to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, who are both unpopular in Kentucky.

“The mayor’s endorsed both of these candidates, so it makes it very difficult for him in Western Kentucky or Eastern Kentucky to convince people that he’s for them when he’s for these regulations that have been killing their jobs,” Paul said.

The hour-long debate, which was televised live on KET, took place about a week before Kentuckians go to the polls on Nov. 8.

Gray is in his second term as mayor of Lexington. Paul is at the end of his first term in the Senate. He also sought the Republican nomination for president but dropped out of the race earlier this year.

The public officials also attacked each other’s political acumen and ability to compromise.

Gray twice said that Paul had “wild-ass” ideas, accusing the Republican senator of being an obstructionist. He chided Paul for quoting Montesquieu, a French philosopher, and highlighted Paul’s vote against the funding of a federal addiction treatment bill during the budgeting process earlier this year.

“It’s obtuse, it’s arcane, it’s nonsense,” Gray said.

Paul defended his vote, saying lawmakers should vote on funding issues piecemeal and shouldn’t have to vote for multiple issues within the same funding bill.

“It’s going to take people with courage to stand up even against demagoguery, people that will demagogue the issue and say you’re opposed to something, you’re actually for them. Because we have to fix the spending problem,” Paul said.

Gray has repeatedly attacked Paul for his presidential bid, accusing him of not paying attention to his duties in the Senate.

On Monday, Paul shot back, panning Gray’s handling of the languishing Centre Pointe development in downtown Lexington, which was started by Gray’s predecessor.

“If anybody’s distracted by running for two offices, it’s you,” Paul said. “You’ve got an enormous hole in the middle of Lexington. It’s been there your entire tenure.”

The two candidates also differed on raising the minimum wage: Gray wants to raise it and Paul doesn’t, saying it would lead to unemployment.

A poll released early on Monday by Runswitch PR showed Paul with a 10-point lead in the race.

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