U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, visited Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center on Tuesday morning, Aug. 25 to speak on the work that has been done since he was re-elected for his sixth term in 2014.
Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center CEO Wayne Meriwether introduced McConnell to those in attendance Tuesday.
McConnell, who was first elected to the United States Senate in 1984, was elected Senate Majority Leader in 2014 and is only the second Kentuckian in history to be elected to this position, Meriwether said.
McConnell opened his discussion by speaking about the changes that have been made to the Senate since it became majority Republican in 2014.
McConnell referenced his last visit to Leitchfield when, using a football metaphor, he said that while he enjoyed serving as “defensive coordinator” (leader of the minority Republican party), “it’s harder to score” in that position.
Elected leader of the Republican party in the Senate five times, McConnell said, he is now the “offensive coordinator” (leader of the majority Republican party), one responsibility of which includes setting the schedule for debate in the Senate.
Despite his party’s now being the majority, McConnell said, “It’s pretty hard to do things one party only.”
With that in mind, since being elected Senate Majority Leader, McConnell said, he has tried to eliminate the dysfunction in the Senate by bringing topics up for debate and a vote that can both receive bipartisan support and are important and worth doing.
Some of these topics include the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which, McConnell said, would have put 20,000 people to work in high-paying jobs “almost immediately;” the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which would, among other purposes, provide for congressional review and oversight of agreements relating to Iran’s nuclear program; a “major rewrite” of the No Child Left Behind act, which would include such actions as the elimination of the National School Board and the shift of many decisions back to the state level; and a cyber security bill.
“The era of dysfunction in the Senate is over,” said McConnell.
McConnell said the Senate has significantly increased its number of roll call votes this year, as opposed to last year, and has also passed a budget, which for “four of the last five years” it did not do.
While the number of roll call votes and bipartisanship has increased, McConnell said the U.S. Senators have not entirely eliminated their differences, “but you shouldn’t worry about that.”
McConnell said the U.S. Senators have no “collegiality problem,” but if it appears that they dislike one another, that is likely due to their increased media exposure.
According to McConnell, what is a problem is that President Barack Obama “is the most liberal president since Woodrow Wilson.”
Obama, McConnell said, has wanted to fundamentally change America into a Western European country, resulting in an increased national debt, and “the most tepid recovery after a deep recession since World War II.”
McConnell also said a reduced national unemployment rate is likely not a good representation of the actual number of unemployed in the country because it counts those actively looking for work, who do not make up the entire unemployed population.
“This is not a formula for our country,” said McConnell, explaining that the four essentials for a successful society are “faith, family, community, and earned success.”
McConnell also attributed the economy’s slow growth, in part, to the Obama administration’s “army” of regulators, such as the EPA.
“These people want to squeeze the risk out of a free enterprise society,” McConnell said. “If you can’t fail, you can’t succeed.”
Following a question about preventing the export of jobs outside of the United States, McConnell said he is “a supporter of free trade agreements.”
McConnell said the United States has a $60 billion trade surplus with countries with which it has free trade agreements.
“I don’t think we ought to view foreign competition as a liability,” McConnell said. “Overall, we gain a lot more because America is a great trading nation.”
When asked about the 2016 Presidential election, McConnell declined to comment on whether he supported one Republican candidate over another, but said, “I hope we can nominate somebody who can win.”
Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.