McConnell talks compromise in D.C.

Senator touts his dealmaking as successful

By Ryan Quinn, Published:

Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, already campaigning to fight off tea party opposition in the 2014 primary and possibly a celebrity Democratic challenger in the general election, presented himself as a successful bipartisan dealmaker Tuesday in Frankfort.

Such characterization is rejected by Democrats, who hold the Senate majority and view McConnell as the architect of lockstep Republican obstructionism to their policies. McConnell, the Senate minority leader, likely faces a tough re-election fight and has already begun airing television advertisements, 20 months before the general election.

McConnell was re-elected to the Senate for a fifth term in 2008 by a low margin.

In a speech to the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations, McConnell advocated increasing the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare for future seniors to reduce America’s huge national deficit. He expressed optimism this could be achieved through bipartisanship.

“I don’t object to bipartisan agreements,” McConnell said. “I’ve been part – and some would argue, the main part, actually – of the three biggest bipartisan agreements that we’ve had.”

He referenced the 2010 two-year extension of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts, the 2011 Budget Control Act and the recent fiscal cliff negotiations.

The Budget Control Act triggered the across-the-board “sequester” spending cuts designed in case Republicans and Democrats could not agree on specific cuts. And the fiscal cliff negotiation erased the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy that McConnell had won an extension of in 2010.

The senator said he felt the fiscal cliff tax compromise was the best that could be achieved, noting it preserved lower taxes for individuals making less than $400,000 and couples making less than $450,000.

“My view was, if you’ve got 100 people who are drowning and you can save 99 of them, why wouldn’t you want to do that?” McConnell said.

Although taxes for average Americans did not increase as much as they would have had the fiscal cliff not been avoided, an expiration in the payroll tax holiday did slightly raise taxes for most.

McConnell referenced four conservative legislative actions, including the last raise in the Social Security eligibility age under President Ronald Reagan and welfare overhaul under President Bill Clinton, to make the case that solutions can be reached during a time of divided government.

He said the government can’t tax or grow its way out of debt, but must address overspending by changing eligibility for entitlement programs.

“I can tell you from looking at survey data that even active, committed tea party activists, who are driven by reducing government spending, don’t want to touch Medicare or Social Security,” McConnell said.

He said the eligibility ages should be changed because Americans are living longer than they did in 1965, when Medicare was created, and 1935, when Social Security was begun. He also suggested denying such services to millionaires and changing the Consumer Price Index, which he said overstates inflation.

“Look, we are one big bipartisan agreement away from re-establishing ourselves as the single most important country in the world,” McConnell said.

He called the debt problem the most predictable crisis in American history, and said he can be part of the solution.

A potential female Democratic challenger to McConnell is actress Ashley Judd, who has already been a target of a negative ad by GOP strategist Karl Rove’s “super PAC” American Crossroads.

Another possible candidate being mentioned is Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes.

Outside the hotel, about 30 protested McConnell’s appearance. Protesters included members of Progress Kentucky and MoveOn.org.

Progress Kentucky Executive Director Shawn Reilly said his organization was in favor of both tea party and Democratic opponents to McConnell.

“He’s failed our state in so many ways,” Reilly said, criticizing McConnell for voting against a veteran’s jobs bill despite voting for the Iraq War.

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  • It is not "spin" to clearly state the facts. This is clearly a Republican problem as they are the ones who want to send us down the dead end road to fiscal austerity. We don't have to imagine what that is like, as it has been a clearly demonstrated failure in Europe. It is basically the same thing that we should practice in our personal fiances. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. What we need is discipline and to have the good sense to know where we want to go and focus on things that produce growth. We need to save when times are good so that we can draw on that surplus when times are bad. For instance bush inherited a $128 billion surplus from Clinton and squandered it with two unfunded tax cuts heavily favoring the rich, two unfunded wars and an unfunded prescription "D" drug program that heavily favored Big Pharm. Times turned bad and there was a $11-plus-trillion debt when George Bush left office. This is the wrong way to do things. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Employment growth is the key to economic prosperity, so we must stimulate invest from the current 15% of GDP back to around 20% of GDP. We must invest in education and infrastructure to do this, which has an excellent return. Government spending increases have a higher "multiplier" than tax cuts, because individuals might choose to save the money from tax cuts, rather than spend it. And therein lies the problem with Republican obstructionism. You have to invest money in a stalled economy to resolve economic uncertainty and stimulate investment back to 20% of GDP. It is like trying to start a car with a low battery...it will turn over very slowly but it won't hit. Spin it faster and she will catch fire every time. Returning our commitment to free trade is like adding starting fluid. .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Senator Reid does many things that are a complete mystery to me, like leaving in place the silent filibuster in a deal cut with McConnell. Why he did this I will never understand, but he clearly backed away from his pledge to put an end to it when he had the chance to do it with a simple majority vote. The obstructionist Republicans have been abusing this ploy to block even the most mundane bills, forcing them to get at least 60 votes when they only have a 53 vote majority. It is nearly impossible to approve the required investment to jump start the economy under these conditions...and Reid seems to be enabling the Republicans to me.

  • You can spin it any way you want to D, a negative cash flow is a negative cash flow. Econ 101. This is not a Democrat problem and it is not a Republican problem. It is a Washington problem. Debt is easy to rack up when it isn't yours. Obama said during one of his press conferences that you don't go to a restaurant, eat the meal, and then refuse to pay the bill. That is true. What he left out was that if your credit card is at the limit you don't go to the restaurant in the first place.------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------If the poison pills are a problem, why not bring them up for debate and expose the problem? I would guess that Mr. Reid and company are engaged a "cat box cover up".

  • Once again you are showing your Republican genetic flaw of being unable to distinguish nuance. All obstructionism is not alike. All of the bills that the House has sent to the Senate, only to be tabled by the Majority Leader, have contained poison pills, stuff like repealing Obamacare (the House voting for that 33 times), killing Medicare, ending food and medical care for nearly 2.5 million Americans...and that just ain't gonna fly in the Senate. With the House full of Teabagging cowboys, Boehner can’t pass anything serious. In fact, about all that Boehner has been successful in has been trying to pass the buck. .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... The reality is that the president can’t do anything until after Congress passes the legislation.

  • Need4speed, the Democrats already have found a viable candidate, and I hear that it is our Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes...just as hot without all of the baggage ;-)! .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Now to your other bullshirt economy issue, where I think that the Republican leadership. like McConnell and Boenher, and you, are deeply confused about the basics of the fiscal problem. YOu guys don't seem to understand that spending cuts have already kept unemployment high and more spending cuts will clearly undermine the strength of the fragile recovery! And here is the real kicker...our spending is ALREADY under control. I heard the Boehner say just the other day his mantra, Obama and the Democrats have done nothing to address our long-term debt problems. It is like he has no idea that the Democrats have already approved nearly $2.5 trillion in long-term debt reduction. Boehner is either ignorant or lying...you choose. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... President Obama knows that we don't have a spending problem because government spending causes economic growth, and that ain't even in the realm of opinion, that is a fact. It is the first thing that the teach you in Econ 101. Repeat, spending is DOWN. ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... I think that we do have a long-term military (not defense, that assumes that your are not the initiator) spending problem, and if the sequester did anything worthwhile, it cut $50 billion (9%) out of that, twisting the world of defense contracting into contortions heretofore unseen. There is a God!

  • News flash. Ashley Dudd wisely decided to not run. Now maybe the Dems will attempt to find a viable candidate that can take down Mitch.

  • 1713, I call bullshirt on your last statement. If the government or any other entity is continuously spending more than they take in, while the debt continues to climb, there is a spending problem. You can stir the numbers around any way you want to, but the fact is the government is spending more than it takes in. Annnnd, it doesn't matter who is in charge-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------As far as blockers go, the Democrats are just as guilty. Harry Ried has consistently tabled any bill sent up by the republican house and refused to allow it in for discussion. Tell me how that is not obstructionist. Oh wait, Ried is a Democrat. That makes it OK.

  • BTW, Mitch's sign: "Spending is Still the Problem" is equally inaccurate since spending has gone down under President Obama. In reality, the lack of JOBS is still the problem. While Ol' Mitch was busy throwing the country under the bus to destroy our economy in a vain effort try to defeat Obama for a second term, job increases have been relatively flat. The Republicans have blocked every attempt of the President to kick start the economy, including Obama's Jobs Bill (the said it was DOA!). Now we have the job killing Republican sequester in play, part of what John Boehner said that he got 98 percent of what he wanted in the negotiations with Obama in August 2011, when the headline read, "John Boehner And The GOP Celebrate Christmas By Creating Zero Jobs". You see, if we create more jobs the deficit just goes away.

  • Come'on smiley, government spending increased significantly under President George W. Bush, went up slightly less under President Bill Clinton but has actually gone DOWN under President Obama. You guys were not mad about George W. Bush’s big spike in spending, but you have decided to get really mad at the guy who is fixing that, and that anger is weird enough on its own terms and is so divorced from reality. ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... If you look at the deficit over the last four years, it starts with the figures released in 2009, when the deficit reached a record high of $1.4 trillion. Thanks to fiscal years, Obama inherited a deficit of nearly $1.3 trillion from Bush/Cheney the moment he took the oath of office. ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... However, this year according to Treasury Department data, the deficit was $1.089 trillion. So when I hear FOX News you guys spin it like, "The deficit was over $1 trillion again," (which is technically accurate), what they don't tell you is that the deficit is now much smaller than it was when Obama took office. They also don't tell you that this is the smallest deficit we've seen in four years,or that is an improvement of over $200 billion since last year, or (AND this is the kicker), the main drivers of the remaining deficit are Republican policies! ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Yeah, that gosh darned Obama is just robbing us blind! NOT! Get you head out of the bubble and stop smiling, this is serious business and you aren't keeping up.

  • Yet another example of a politican believing their own spin on events and hoping that the people to whom he speaks aren't smart enough to know better. All of us have to follow what these people do every day they're in Washington rather than believing self-serving speeches such as this one and television commercials. Peel back the layers here and you will find someone who is interested in being in DC for his own good and not the good of Kentucky (or the country). Thirty years is enough; time to have someone else. And, for the record, I'd rather that someone else having demonstrated some care and concern for the Commonwealth as opposed to running on celebrity alone.

  • With the president we have, I'd be more likely to vote for him if he said NO compromise. Obama robs this country with both hands and has a Marie Antoinette attitude.

  • Run Ashley, Run. iloveit. Ah, my mamma awlways told meah that Mitch McConnell is like a box of choc-oh-lates...the ones with the turtles are the best.

  • Mitch isn't going to make it to the general election...he's gettin' primarried by the Teabaggers!

  • Well at least Ashley did TWO more things than Ritchie Farmer. He just went to basketball games :-).............All joking aside, Mitch really plays his supporters for idiots doesn't he. Maybe they are if they swallowed that bucket full of slop jawing lies! At this point I am not voting for a particular person to win, I'm voting for Mitch to lose. I don't care who it is & I don't care how much seniority Mitch has.

  • Ashley Judd has one thing going for her, and it's a big one: she's not Mitch!.......Normally, I wouldn't vote for anyone based on the fact that I don't like their opponent, but Mitch is so bad and I hate him so much......

  • Ashely Judd really? thats all we need is a so called Hollywood "celeb" in office who calls herself a social activists.....I might even vote for her who knows, doubt but funny seeing all this support for her to go agaisnt McConnell and yet I haven't really seen her come out and say one political view. She was born into a music family, woopee; did a few movies, another woopee; and goes to UK basketball games yep that qualifies her for office alright................................

  • First I am no fan of any career politician no matter what party they represent-----but since we are on the bashing wagon-----(Lies), if you pass my stimulus unemployment won't reach 8% Obama said actually hit 10% and still sits around 8% going on 5 years later-----My stimulus projects are shovel ready, actually many weren't----I will cut the deficit in half my first term, actually doubled it-------will stop pork spending,funny you can find hundreds of pork projects in stimulus bill-----I will close gitmo, its still open------I will post every bill online before I sign, hasn't happened----will keep lobbyist out of The White House, hasn't happened, etc..etc..etc..---taking care of the "rich" guy hmmm lets see heard the name Solyndra the company that got hundreds of millions in stimulus money is now bankrupt and under investigation by FBI, taxpayers lost their money go dig and find a close look who got theirs back-----White House tours closed to the public, well except unless you donate $500,000 to Obamas organization ran by a former campaign manager who takes donations to lobby their political views with The White House and if you donate $500,000 you get quarterly meetings at The White House------number at hotel was more like 25, maybe 30;wow 30 protesters--------ye ye I know it was all Bush's fault and stop watching Fox News but that's really getting old after 5 years come up with a new excuse and get your head out of the sand.....

  • Mitch, you can't seem to open your mouth without lying. Never once, have you and your republicans buddies tried to help our president and our country. Republicans wonder what they need to do to change the image of their party. Get rid of senators who still lives in the past. I hope your time is up in Ky.

  • HAHAHAHAHA....my sides are hurting.....HAHAHA.

  • everyone that's followed mitch for the last 30 years knows, if there are 100 people drowning, mitch will throw the only life preserver to the rich guy. but only after the guy promises a campaign 'donation'.

  • About 50 people protested Mitch McConnell's appearance in Frankfort today downtown at the hotel. Many great signs and sentiments. RUN, ASHLEY, RUN!!!

  • Senator McConnell, you have got to be kidding. All your efforts to block and obstruct everything that might lead to Obama getting a second term, and now you are ready for compromise? I'll go by what you do, not by what you say. Your actions speak louder than your words.

  • McConnell the candidate for compromise? The man whose picture is in the dictionary beside the words partisanship, self-interest, and obstructionism? Even for him, that chutzpah is mind- boggling. How can he say that with a straight face?

  • REALLY!?! The man who epitomizes obstructionism in the Senate and who personally threw this country under the bus for 4 years in order to try to achieve his single minded goal of making Obama a single term President, is now trying to claim that he is NOW the compromise candidate? He apparently has forgotten that CSPAN video tapes EVERYTHING these days.