By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
In front of two Corbin audiences at two events Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell talked about his take on the state of the nation and health care.
When questioned about what can be done to improve the situation in Washington, McConnell said at both events, “The answer is to change the leader of the Senate, change the makeup of the Senate, change the agenda of the senate, and elect a new president in 2016.”
Kentucky’s senior senator and Republican leader first spoke at the monthly meeting of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Held at the Corbin Center, McConnell told the crowd of more than 250, “I wish I had sort of an upbeat message today, but I’m going to give you a state-of-the-country message after four-and-a-half years of mismanagement.”
McConnell lashed out at President Barack Obama, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, and the Democratic majority in the Senate for the problems concerning the economy, business, health care and coal in Kentucky.
“There is a depression, not a recession, in the coalfields of central Appalachia, courtesy of the Obama Administration. What do we do? We have to fight back. … Does any of this work? If borrowing, and spending, and over-regulating and taxes are bringing back America, America would be in the middle of a boom. The president is unable to do legislatively what he did in the first two years. We have divided government. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, they moved to the center with bipartisan support when Reagan and Clinton were in the White House. Question is, what did this president do when he lost control of Congress? He moved to the left,” McConnell pointed out.
The senator gave a thumbs-down to the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, and mentioned next year’s election for senate races as a way for people to speak out at the polls.
“Obamacare will not and cannot work. The president said ‘nevermind’ to the employer mandate, but what about individuals? Clearly the cracks are developing. But it will implode. It’s a matter of time when the bricks will crumble. We’re going to have a chance to have a national referendum in 2014. Let me say this, we have an obligation to deal with the political situation, and the president can move to the center. I hope he changes, but his strategy of running the country isn’t working,” said McConnell.
Citing what he called the country’s $6.5 trillion debt, McConnell told the Chamber opportunity is being stifled with the current situation in Washington.
“Your ancestors came to America for opportunity. Historically, that’s what America stands for. To compete in the global economy, America has to be the best-educated, most open and the best place to do business. The government will not create prosperity with the view that if you make a profit, you’re up to no good. The senator from Nevada said, ‘Coal will make you sick.’ If I was setting the agenda, coal would be at the top of the list, and repealing Obamacare would be number one. … Obamacare is the worst piece of legislation in the last 50 years. I will do everything I can to defund this bill,” he said.
The senator ended his speech to the Chamber with a question-and-answer session.
When McConnell was asked if the country had an energy agenda, he replied, “The president’s agenda actually doesn’t have anything in it for any kind of energy that works, like coal and gas pipelines. There’s the energy in Canada, the pipeline. I’m stunned that he hasn’t approved the pipeline. Where are the jobs? I think this administration is involved in marine energy. … He has an army of regulators crawling all over the place and micro-managing. It’s more of that anti-business, ‘we know what’s best,’ mentality.”
McConnell later took his message to a health care forum at Baptist Health Corbin hospital. The event was attended by over 125 people, primarily in the health care professions.
Inside the gymnasium at the Trillium Center, the senator took to task the Affordable Care Act in greater detail.
“Unlike Social Security and Medicare, this proposal wasn’t passed by a bipartisan majority. The purpose for Obamacare was for the 40 million or so who don’t have health care. The question on my mind, is, ‘What is the best way to work on that problem, and where is the money coming from?’ They took three-fourths of a trillion dollars from health care providers, raised taxes on health care devices and on insurance premiums, and increases on taxes for higher income people. It was a 2,700-page bill. We voted against it. We predicted it would drive premiums up, and it would cost jobs. That’s already happened. I always believed that if something don’t work, it don’t work. It’s a train wreck,” McConnell said.
He later pointed to England’s National Health Service as an example of why government should not take over health care.
“This highly bureaucratic, highly costly blob is in charge of health care. You’ll get covered, you’re on the list, but when will they get around to you? And they’re very slow. I hear that in Canada, they have a service similar to England’s, and that a lot of Canadians don’t use it, and come to America. We need to put the heat on, because you all don’t deserve to have this. You all have the greatest health care system in the world, unless we pass this.”
When McConnell was asked if the Senate could help with the health care provider shortage, he replied, “I’m worried about the future of medical education. I think we’ve dumbed down the profession, and it should be brought back up as a proud profession. More and more young people have decided to go into another line of work because of an aging population, job satisfaction, and other concerns. We should back up and work on problems with Medicare and Medicaid, take the scalpel to health insurance costs, and not let the government go into health care.”
Before his two Corbin appearances, McConnell was in Williamsburg, where he toured the Firestone plant with local officials.