Julia Roberts Goad
PIKEVILLE, Ky. — U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says President Obama has overreached, with policies that have slowed the growth of the American economy.
McConnell was in Pikeville Monday to bring awareness to the Coal Jobs Protection Act, which is aimed at what he called the Environmental Protection Agency’s burdensome regulations. He spoke to the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve seen it acutely here in eastern Kentucky in the coal industry,” McConnell said. “But its going on everywhere. Not just in healthcare through Obamacare, or in financial services through Dodd-Frank, but everywhere. Regulators, if you will, on steroids are over regulating our society.”
The senator said the American economy has had slow growth, less than 1 percent per year for the last four years, and regulations are one of the reasons.
“I think you can pretty safely conclude that the reason this is the most tepid recovery after any recession in American history is the government itself, making it difficult for our basic entrepreneurial nature to function.” he said.
McConnell said the partisanship in Washington is not the fault of him or the Republican party.
He went on to explain that, after the first two years of Obama’s administration, he told his colleagues he thought it best to separate themselves from Obama’s policies.
“I told them, let’s draw a line in the sand,” he said. “And draw a distinction from what these other guys do and what we would do if we had the opportunity to do it.”
He said he thinks his role as Kentucky’s senator as well as Senate Minority Leader is not to oppose for the sake of opposition.
“For the first two years, frankly, I couldn’t find anything they were doing that I thought was in the best interest of the country,” McConnell said. “The goal then was to unify our people. For example, not one of our people voted for Obamacare, not one.”
But, when the President has moved toward the political center, McConnell said, compromise can be made.
“There have been three major deals with this administration,” he said. “And I have brokered every one of them. I led the opposition to everything the president was doing the first two years, and I brokered those deals; all of them have been related to spending and taxes.”
McConnell said those deals were the 2010 two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, the 2011 Budget Control Act, which cut government spending by $2.1 trillion, and the agreement at the end of 2011 that ended what he called the “death tax” on small businesses.
McConnell said the biggest problem facing the American economy were the so-called entitlement programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. He said since Americans are living longer than they were when these programs were created, raising the age limit on Social Security and Medicare are the only way to make sure these programs survive.
“That is the central challenge, the transcendent issue of our time,” he said.
As to the future of the coal industry, McConnell said that he had little hope for the Coal Jobs Protection Act, that one part of the legislation he especially favored is setting a time limit for the Environmental Protection Agency to either grant or deny a mining permit.
“We need a time limit on these 404 and 402 permits,” he said. “If there was one in place, companies wouldn’t be hanging in purgatory. If they want to say no, at least own up to it. Be man enough to say ‘the answer’s no, it’s not maybe someday.’”
McConnell said he feels the EPA is misreading the law to push forward their “radical agenda.”
“This regulatory nightmare is an executive induced problem that, frankly, the problem could be solved with a different occupant in the White House.”