Kentucky Deserves So Much Better Than Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul

Dr. Dion
Dr. Dion
Dec 30, 2020 · 5 min read
McConnell and Paul — Timothy D. Easley/AP

The great state of Kentucky is represented in the US Senate by two Republicans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. Respectfully, and with a nod to kindness and civility, these are two of the worst people in the world.

McConnell has a reported net worth of $30 million (though the bulk of this stems from an inheritance his wealthy mother-in-law left to his wealthy wife, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao). Paul, an ophthalmologist since 1993, is reportedly worth approximately $2.5 million. The per capita income for Kentuckians is $28,178; the median household income is $50,589. So, both senators fare much better than the average Kentuckian. And yet, in the face of the worst public health and economic crises of our lifetimes, these two elected representatives of the people have done everything in their power to withhold needed financial assistance from their own constituents, and the country as a whole.

As it relates to Kentucky, the state of the state is…impoverished. Even before the pandemic, Kentucky was the third poorest, the eighth hungriest, and the sixth worst educated state. Kentucky boasts 10 counties on the Top 25 Worst Counties to Live In list, due to poor educational attainment, life expectancy, and rate of poverty.

Since the pandemic has raged virtually unchecked across the United States, Kentucky’s situation has become even more perilous. Like most of the country, Kentucky is experiencing a K-shaped recovery; while the “haves” are seeing their personal economies track onward and upward, the “have-nots” are watching their own rates of solvency plummet in the face of unemployment, rising credit card debt, and late payments.

The financial hardship many Kentuckians face moves $30 million McConnell and $2.5 million Paul not at all. Since the earliest days of the pandemic, they have been staunchly opposed to providing financial assistance to states and municipalities who are on the front lines of testing, tracing, and treatment of coronavirus cases. Unlike the federal government, states are required to balance their budgets each year. Shutting down businesses and industries in order to contain the virus means less tax revenue to fund education, infrastructure, and the salaries of state and local employees such as teachers, firefighters, police officers, sanitation workers, and transit workers. These are the people who make cities and counties run; they protect, serve, educate, and transport. By refusing to provide state and local aid, McConnell is literally defunding the police — and other civil servants for whom the need is even greater now.

McConnell — Susan Walsh/AP

In May, the US House passed a COVID-relief package with direct payments for individuals. Again, despite Kentuckians’ desperate need for the aid, McConnell refused to even consider the legislation. For months, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin negotiated a package to help hurting Americans. McConnell would not come to the negotiating table or pass legislation of his own out of the Senate.

During the week of Christmas, and with the Senate runoff elections looming in Georgia, McConnell cynically passed the “David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler Re-election Act” which included a measly $600 one-time payment to Americans, seven months after the House passed its more substantial version. Trump thwarted his master plan by — at first — refusing to sign the bill and then demanding that the one-time payment be raised to $2,000. To be clear, Trump cares no more about the American people than McConnell does. He is angry that McConnell is not helping him overthrow democracy and resentful that McConnell and others will be returning to Washington after he has been expelled. He made these demands only to stick it to McConnell — which he has been able to do with some success.

$600 is not enough for people who have been unemployed or underemployed for months. $2,000 is not enough for people who have been unemployed or underemployed for months. However, Paul and McConnell think it is too much. In the Senate debate about the $900 billion COVID relief bill, Paul stated:

This bill is free money for everyone. And yet, if free money were the answer, if money really grew on trees, why not give more free money? Why not give it out all the time? Why stop at $600 a person? Why not $1,000? Why not $2,000? If we can print up money with impunity, why not do it?

Paul’s statement is wrong on many counts. Namely, the money is not free. Taxpayers actually paid this money into the government in better times; now, in difficult times, they need some of their own money back — to spend, to pay down debt, to stimulate the economy. Paul is also wrong to be so incredibly heartless. As a US Senator, Paul earns $174,000 per year. He has not missed a single paycheck. His direct deposit hits the bank on time, every time and it is way more than $600. To turn his back on those who do not have the certainty of a cushy paycheck coming in regularly is unkind and uncaring. It is a slap in the face to the very people who elected him.

Not to be outdone, McConnell, who as majority leader earns $193,000 annually, stated that nearly half of the Republican Senate Caucus believes that they have, “already done enough” in pandemic aid and that extra unemployment benefits incentivize people, “not to return to work.” A civics lesson is in order: the US Senate works an average of 165 days each year. Pot, meet kettle.

Kentucky deserves better than two wealthy multi-millionaires who are completely detached from the experiences of middle and working class Americans. As Democratic donors discovered in November, even with virtually unlimited resources, it is nearly impossible to knock either of them off their perch. The only hope for struggling Kentuckians — and the rest of the country — is to put McConnell and Paul into the minority and keep them there. That way the rising Democratic tide of economic, educational, public health, and environmental relief can lift all boats, including those in Kentucky.

Sign up for more (but not too much) on politics, leadership, and faith or follow me on Twitter.

ILLUMINATION-Curated

ILLUMINATION-Curated hosts outstanding stories of advanced writers covering 100+ topics.

Dr. Dion

Written by

Dr. Dion

Unbothered. Unapologetic. Unashamed. Follow me on Twitter. I’m adorable over there. @drdionclark

ILLUMINATION-Curated

Outstanding stories objectively and diligently selected by 40+ senior editors on ILLUMINATION

Dr. Dion

Written by

Dr. Dion

Unbothered. Unapologetic. Unashamed. Follow me on Twitter. I’m adorable over there. @drdionclark

ILLUMINATION-Curated

Outstanding stories objectively and diligently selected by 40+ senior editors on ILLUMINATION

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store