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McConnell visit to the Florence Rotary includes discussion about tax reform, health care and tweeting

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Health care, tax reform and President Trump’s tweets were among the topics U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talked about during a visit to the Rotary Club of Florence Monday.

McConnell (R-KY) started with a light moment that had a hidden message, by comparing the position of Senate Majority Leader to the role of groundskeeper at a cemetery.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (second from right) covered a wide range of topics during his visit to the Rotary Club of Florence Monday. Seated left to right are, Boone County Commissioner Charles Kenner, State Sen. John Schickel (R-Union), Sen. McConnell, and Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore, who introduced the Senate Majority Leader (photos by Mark Hansel).

“Everybody’s under you, but nobody is listening,” McConnell said. “You saw an example of that a couple of weeks ago when we came up one vote short on our effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, which was deeply disappointing.”

He added later that until he can get 50 votes in the Senate to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act, he thinks it is time for Congress to move on to other issues.

There has been some criticism that the GOP has failed to capitalize on the strength associated with having a Republican president and a majority in Congress. McConnell addressed the issue by asking for patience.

“A Congress goes on for two years and part of the reason I think that the story line is that we haven’t done much is because, in part, the President and others have set these early time lines about things need to be done by a certain point,” McConnell said.

He pointed to the accomplishments of the Obama administration in its first two years.

“Obamacare didn’t pass in the first year. In fact it wasn’t signed until March of 2010…and Obamacare was their big deal,” McConnell said. “Their second most important priority was called Dodd-Frank, that was the Democratic response to the meltdown in the financial services industry in 2008. That was signed in July of 2010.

In the first year of the Obama administration, when it had 60 votes in the Senate, and a 40 seat majority in the house, McConnell said it “squandered” billions on the stimulus.

“Went out and borrowed $800 billion and spent it and nobody could find anything that got stimulated, but it added almost a trillion dollars to the national debt,” McConnell said.

He compared that to the first seven months of this two-year congress, beginning with the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

“The single most important decision I made in my entire political career is the decision not to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice (Antonin) Scalia in February of 2016,” McConnell said.

The appointment of Gorsuch, at age 49, could help ensure a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for years to come.

McConnell said Congress also spent the first four months of the year trying to undo the “regulatory rampage” implemented during the Obama administration.

He said the next step for Congress is tax reform.

“We have a horrible tax code,” McConnell said. “It is the principal reason that many companies offshore jobs to other countries. It’s a very competitive global environment, you all see that a lot here in Northern Kentucky because a lot of the businesses that exist in this part of our state are international in nature.”

A more rational tax code, coupled with regulatory relief, he said, makes America more competitive in the global economy.

“Don’t start judging to soon, the accomplishments of this congress, sending bills to this president, who will sign them,” McConnell said. “I’m not going to tell you when we are going to finish tax reform, but we’ll finish it. That’s the way we begin to change America.”

McConnell praised the Kentucky General Assembly, for the legislation it approved during the 2017 session, which included the passage of right-to work and prevailing wage.

“They put up a business-friendly sign on Kentucky that the government and the legislature can already see successes occurring (as a result),” McConnell said. “It’s been a good year in Northern Kentucky, with the Amazon development, for which all of you deserve a lot of credit.”

Republicans took control of the State House for the first time in 95 years and coupled with the majority in the Senate, that allowed the General Assembly to pass much of the significant legislation in the first week of the “short” session.

McConnell addressed the heroin and opioid crises while taking questions from those in attendance. He said that is one area where Republicans and Democrats find common ground.

A small group of protestors gathered outside the Airport Hilton in Florence where Sen. Mich McConnell spoke to members of the Florence Rotary Club Monday.

“We did a Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a major piece of legislation, and we passed it on an overwhelming vote,” McConnell said. “It’s going to be a long fight, and it’s not over, but we’ve made some progress.”

McConnell was asked how Republicans can deliver a more consistent message. He said that is President Trump’s job and he doesn’t think tweeting is an effective way to accomplish the goal.

“I’ve been, and I will be again today, not a fan of tweeting – I’ve said that to him privately and I’ve said it at other events publicly,” McConnell said. “I think it would be helpful if the President was a little bit more on message.”

A small group of protestors gathered on the sidewalk outside of the Airport Hilton on Turfway Road, where the Florence Rotary meets every Monday at noon, but it was nothing compared to the crowd McConnell drew at a February event in Covington.

The Rotary Club of Florence is part of Rotary International, an organization of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in its communities and around the world.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Florence, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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  1. Jeffrey Hampton says:

    Why is there no push back from reporters when McConnell publicly lies? To say that Obama’s stimulus stimulated nothing is a flat out lie as just about any reputable economist will tell you. While a bigger stimulus was needed and should have been proposed, Obama’s stimulus stopped the downward spiral in jobs and prevented the collapse of the auto industry. Mitch is fond of telling us he’s no scientist when talking about Climate change. Well, he’s not an economist either as his comments yesterday show all to clearly. The only industries he cares about are the zombie industries in Kentucky such as coal and tobacco.

  2. JoAnn Schwartz says:

    I agree with Mr. Hampton. I am amazed by what McConnell gets away with.

    People quickly forget what a dire financial situation the country was in in 2008-09. The stimulus package’s [The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)], purpose was to end the 2008 recession by spurring consumer spending and saving between 900,000 to 2.3 million jobs. According to a poll of economists conducted by University of Chicago in 2010, it was a success, instilling the confidence needed to boost economic growth.

  3. TDC says:

    I am quite shocked that Mitch McConnell was allowed to speak at anything associated with Rotary. What he has/had to say does not adhere to Rotary’s 4-way test without someone of equal stature from the opposing side was able to speak as well. RI should probably question this club’s choice of speakers. Politicians and their agendas are usually avoided unless they speak from a neutral position. That does not seem to be what happened here.

  4. Jeffrey Hampton says:

    Mitch is proudest of his great accomplishment of subverting the advise and consent power of the Senate in the matter of the Supreme Court appointment of Neil Gorsuch. Really? He ought to be charged with theft of a public office and dereliction of a public trust and Neil Gorsuch should be charged with receiving stolen goods – namely his seat on the Supreme Court. That seat rightfully belongs to Merrick Garland and Gorsuch is an illegitimate and fraudulent holder of that seat. He shares that title with another famous Republican, Rutherford Hayes, appropriately called “His Fraudulency’ after the Republican Party stole the election of 1876.

  5. ruth bamberger says:

    The above comments are very thoughtful and to the point. Will we ever see McConnell hold an open town meeting in NKY?

  6. Marcy Maez says:

    I personally don’t think you will ever see McConnell hold an open town meeting in NKY.

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