Mitch McConnell says Kynect is “unconnected” to Obamacare, dodges questions on NSA spying and coal “making us sick”

mitch and rand

Sen. Mitch McConnell conducted a 24-minute press conference in Louisville today, with Rand Paul at his side, taking a wide range of questions from reporters — even directly answering a couple of them.

McConnell took three questions on the Affordable Care Act and how its repeal would affect the 413,000 Kentuckians who now have insurance through the state exchange, Kynect. The first question asked how he would respond to those who say repeal would take away the healthcare of 413,000 Kentuckians, to which McConnell launched into his standard answer that Obamacare was raising premiums, raising deductibles, and killing jobs, concluding, “It was a big mistake, we ought to pull it out root and branch and start over.”

WHAS’ Joe Arnold followed up that answer by asking, “But if you repeal it, won’t all of the state exchanges be dismantled? How does that work?” McConnell then launched into his standard “solution” of sorts, calling for an “international market” of insurance companies that aren’t limited by state lines, in addition to “malpractice reform.”

“The CBO … said that if Obamacare kicks in fully, it goes all the way into effect, we’re still going to have 30 million uninsured,” said McConnell. “We had 40 (million) when we started. What is the cost benefit ratio of this kind of destruction, it’s kind of impact, on our…on 16 percent of the economy to have such a marginal reduction at the end of the day? It’s a huge mistake. And I think people of this state are entitled to know the answer to the question: How do you feel about it? And I think my opponent is trying to dodge that question. She’s been dodging it for a year. It’s time for her to answer the question, how do you feel about it?

I’ll interuprt here to cite the CBO report he’s talking about to show how misleading this argument is. According to the CBO, by 2024 the number of uninsured will, in fact, be 31 million people, but without the ACA there would have been 56 million people uninsured. This number takes into account the undocumented immigrants who can’t get insurance because of the lack of immigration reform, and the people who can’t get Medicaid in states that opted out of the Medicaid expansion. That means that when the ACA “kicks in fully” and is “all the way into effect,” 26 million will have gained access to healthcare coverage because of it. McConnell calls 26 million people gaining such coverage a “marginal reduction” of the uninsured, which I assume would include not just the 413,000 Kentuckians who now have coverage because of it, but the grand total of 640,000 who might gain coverage within the next few years.

cbo aca

Oh, and what does the CBO also estimate that repealing the ACA would do to our deficit? Here’s what the CBO has to say:

What Is the Impact of Repealing the ACA on the Federal Budget?

Assuming that H.R. 6079 is enacted near the beginning of fiscal year 2013, CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting that legislation would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013–2022 period. Specifically, we estimate that H.R. 6079 would reduce direct spending by $890 billion and reduce revenues by $1 trillion between 2013 and 2022, thus adding $109 billion to federal budget deficits over that period.

No world on if McConnell thinks the $109 billion that Obamacare saves through 2022 is also a “marginal reduction” of the federal deficit.

Now back to the press conference:

Noting that McConnell didn’t answer his question — nor the one before it, though McConnell was accusing Alison Lundergan Grimes of avoiding ACA questions — Arnold followed up, asking “Should Kynect be dismantled?” McConnell gave this jaw-dropping one-sentence reply: “I think that’s unconnected to my comments about the overall question here.

Let’s get something straight here: Kynect could not have existed without the Affordable Care Act, and it would cease to exist if the Affordable Care Act ceased to exist. There would be no people eligible for the expanded Medicaid — the large majority of those who signed up through Kynect — and there would be no exchange for people to sign up for affordable private insurance with federal subsidies. Saying that Kynect is unconnected with the ACA or its repeal is just mind-numbingly false. The ACA and Kynect are one in the same.

I though it was supposed to be Grimes running scared from Obamacare because it was so unpopular, not Mitch running away from Obamacare exchange criticism because the Obamacare exchange is so popular? Time to tear up and throw away your Beltway conventional wisdom script, I guess.

Moving on to other questions, McConnell was asked whether the federal minimum wage is unconstitutional, replying, “No, not unconstitutional, just not advisable in the current environment.” McConnell then cited the CBO study saying this increase could decrease employment in the short term by 500,000 to one million, saying “There may be times when a minimum wage increase is appropriate, in my view, there may be times for that. But certainly not at this point, when you’re going to put, at a minimum, 17,000 more Kentuckians out of work.”

Considering Mitch McConnell has also been a big supporter of NSA domestic spying programs and the Patriot Act — and Rand Paul was standing next to him, who is suing the Obama administration over these NSA programs — I asked Mitch this question: “Do you think that the NSA domestic spying programs on emails and phone records is unconstitutional, and do you think the NSA should be scaled back?” Rand asked if I was asking him, and I clarified that I already knew his position, I was asking McConnell. However, McConnell declined to even attempt to answer the question, leaving Paul to give his standard answer as to why they are unconstitutional. Perhaps McConnell will get the nerve to answer that at some point during the campaign…

Though I was going to ask the exact question if I was able to get it in, C-J reporter Dr. Joe Gerth beat me to it and asked McConenll if coal actually does make people sick:

Gerth: “You’ve been pretty critical of Sen. Reid for his “coal makes us sick” comment. But isn’t there plenty of evidence that coal-fired emissions cause breathing problems, to black lung disease, that coal does in fact, in some ways, cause people to become ill?”

McConnell: “We’re burning coal cleaner and cleaner and cleaner. There’s really a war on fossil fuel across the board by these guys. And it’s important to also recognize that 40% of our electricity in America comes from coal-fired generation, 90% in Kentucky. They have no plans to replace it. We’re looking at potential brown outs in the not too distant future if they continue down this path. So we all want a cleaner environment. I think America has made incredible strides toward a cleaner environment in a variety of different ways over the years. But this is an economic disaster for us and a power supply disaster for a lot of the rest of the country.”

Yes, Sen. McConnell, our environment has made great strides over the years, and we are burning coal much cleaner. Do you know why? EPA mandates and regulations that have forces coal-burning utilities to burn coal cleaner. At least it’s good to know that McConnell thinks the EPA is good for something. Maybe at some point in the campaign he’ll even tell us if arsenic, mercury, selenium, lead and sulfur dioxide make people sick.

Remember, McConnell is the same guy who ridicules Grimes for not answering questions. Get ready for more of this over the next six months.

7 Comments

  1. Jim
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone shoot video of the press conference?

  2. Brian Metaphor
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Fuck Obamacare. How is it legal for the government to force me as a citizen to buy a product that I do not want? I don’t have insurance, I did not sign up for Obamacare, and I will not sign up for it. People in this country need to have a little bit of personal pride, put forth some effort, and learn how to take care of themselves instead of expecting someone else to do it for them. These days everybody wants something for nothing and that will be the downfall of this country.

  3. Merlin1963
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    I see you got a troll on here Joe.

  4. Texas Aggie
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I keep hearing about how Obamacare is taking away personal responsibility, but that is characteristic of ALL types of insurance. You pay in your premium and someone else who gets sick or hurt collects. What is different about Obamacare?

    Auto insurance of a certain level is obligatory. Medicare payments are automatically withheld. Why should health insurance be any different?

  5. Ann
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    I have been without health insurance from time to time in my life. Even though I was incredibly healthy at those times, they certainly did not feel like freedom to me. Being w/out health insurance is among the least freedom-feeling states I have ever experienced.

    One unintended consequence of the ACA that Republicans ought to applaud: More people feel freer to start a small business, because for the first time in their life, they can afford private health insurance.

    If anyone wants to self-insure, they should know that uninsured, i.e. “cash” patients, don’t get the contract rates negotiated by the major carriers, and hence have higher bills. You may as well convert your retirement nest egg to currency and have a bonfire in front of your house.

    Going without health insurance is one of the stupidest decisions a person can make. Even if they are wealthy — wealthy people get that way by not being frivolous or foolhardy with their finances.

  6. Jay B.
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    “These days everybody wants something for nothing and that will be the downfall of this country.”

    Funny, earlier in your tirade you said your problem was paying for something you didn’t want, which is actually the opposite of “something for nothing”. And when you do get sick, and odds are overwhelming that you will, it’ll be up to the rest of us to pick up your catastrophic care because you won’t be able to pay your emergency room bills because that’s what happens when people try and get something for nothing. I know people like you exist by the millions, but it’s always bracing to try and parse out the inchoate beliefs that come out of your head, just to try and see if they have any internal logic. I can’t quite grasp yours, other than you think that sick people should just fix their illnesses themselves and you don’t think you’ll ever be sick or injured and require health care. Because that’s what made America great or something.

  7. Merlin1963
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Brian is getting the attention he so desperately craves. Guess I will throw my two cents in and remind Brian that the ACA is a conservative Republican idea from the Heritage Foundation. Obama ran with this idea because he thought he could gain the cooperation of the health insurance industry and Republicans. The other parts of the ACA, regulation of the health insurance industry and Medicaid expansion, were incorporated to keep Democrats on board who wanted a single payer system.

    However, I know that Brian and other Republicans purposely block this from their little minds. It is only because a Democrat endorsed a conservative Republican idea that it became toxic to conservatives. Also, Brian fits in well with many on the Republican side who think that if anything bad happens to someone they deserve it because of some moral failing. It is a great way to absolve yourself of doing anything for your fellow man, and it justifies extreme selfishness and callousness.

17 Trackbacks

  1. […] were made during a press conference in Louisville, where he was joined by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). According to Joe Sonka, a news editor at Kentucky’s LEO Weekly, reporters grilled the minority leader on what […]

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  3. […] were made during a press conference in Louisville, where he was joined by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). According to Joe Sonka, a news editor at Kentucky’s LEO Weekly, reporters grilled the minority leader on what […]

  4. […] were made during a press conference in Louisville, where he was joined by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). According to Joe Sonka, a news editor at Kentucky’s LEO Weekly, reporters grilled the minority leader on what […]

  5. […] were made during a press conference in Louisville, where he was joined by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). According to Joe Sonka, a news editor at Kentucky’s LEO Weekly, reporters grilled the minority leader on what […]

  6. […] from WHAS reporter Joe Arnold about whether the state’s exchange should be dismantled, McConnell said, “I think …read […]

  7. […] questions from WHAS reporter Joe Arnold about whether the state’s exchange should be dismantled, McConnell said, “I think that’s unconnected to my comments about the overall question […]

  8. […] from WHAS reporter Joe Arnold about whether the state’s exchange should be dismantled, McConnell said, “I think that’s unconnected to my comments about the overall question […]

  9. […] from WHAS reporter Joe Arnold about whether the state’s exchange should be dismantled, McConnell said, “I think that’s unconnected to my comments about the overall question […]

  10. […] were made during a press conference in Louisville, where he was joined by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). According to Joe Sonka, a news editor at Kentucky’s LEO Weekly, reporters grilled the minority leader on what […]

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  12. […] * GOP EVASIONS ON OBAMACARE CONTINUE: I’m late to this, but you know I have to take note of it. Mitch McConnell is now saying, laughably, that the fate of Kentucky Kynect is “unconnected” to his continu…. […]

  13. […] on Friday when he first said that Kentucky’s state Obamacare exchange would be “unconnected” to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act he advocates for, and didn’t respond […]

  14. […] Governor Steve Beshear under the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how LEO Weekly, out of Louisville, reported the […]

  15. […] Governor Steve Beshear under the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how LEO Weekly, out of Louisville, reported the […]

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