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August 01, 2020

Mitch McConnell July 31 Stimulus Interview With WHAS (Transcript)

COVID-19

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Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was interviewed by Terry Meiners on WHAS, a Kentucky radio station, discussing the next stimulus package.

You can listen to the full interview here, and the transcript is below.

TERRY MEINERS, HOST: Some people were upset that the Senate is not working this weekend because of the negotiations over the stimulus package, and the White House is doing an end run around the liability shield, what’s up with that, are they trying to throw that aside?

MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: No, I don’t think so. Ultimately if we get a deal I’ll be the one to put it in the Senate, the President and administration are for it.  There was some rumor that they are prepared to negotiate it away, but that’s not going to happen.

This pandemic will be with us well into next year, what we don’t need is an epidemic of lawsuits on the heals of the pandemic., suing doctors, hospitals, educators, and small businesses for things related to the coronavirus.

We don’t want to rewrite the personal injury laws in every state in America, but this would be a narrowly-crafted liability protection for four years, beginning in December 2019 and going forward four years, and it’s absolutely essentially if we’re going to have any chance to get abc to normal.

This negotiation is going to be tough, House Democrats and Senate Democrats want to spend 3 trillion dollars, that’s the same amount we already spent just 3 months ago. We have a debt the size of our economy for the first time since World War II.

And we think about a third of that makes more sense and it should be narrowly-crafted to deal with getting kids back to school, bringing jobs back with the PPP, and further underwriting healthcare because the pandemic is clearly not over. We had a surge in Kentucky that is happening all across the south and the West Coast.

MEINERS: There were several GOP senators who said they weren’t interested in any GOP stimulus package, so how did you bring them back to church, back to your way of thinking?

MCCONNELL: Well I think there are 15-20 of my guys who aren’t going to vote for anything, their argument is not irrational, we’ve got a massive debt now, and they don’t think we should pass another one of these bills, I don’t agree with that, but we will not have everybody on our side.

You’ve heard a lot of talk about additional assistance for state and local governments, and we’re very skeptical about that because according to the Treasury Department, as of June 30, a month ago, the state administration and local administration have not spent 94% of the money so we want to see some real demonstrated need before doing another slog of money for state and local governments, we gave them $150 billion in the CARES Act, and they’ve not used 94% of that in our state, it raises the appropriateness of sending them even more.

They keep going on the news pulling out their pocket lining claiming they’re completely broke and I read a report that said only 25% all across America has been spent so I don’t understand the hat in hand attitude.

MEINERS: Why are they holding onto this money?

MCCONNELL: The only thing I can figure is that the Democrats want to spend ⅓ of it on state and local governments, and I think it has a lot to do with public employee unions and their support for Democrats and Democratic officials, I think it’s more of a partisan desire on their part than something you could actually demonstrate need for.

We have a lot of reluctance on that, there’s not an additional slog of money in the proposal for state and local government.

MEINERS: You used the imagery of Nancy Pelosi moving goal posts and Chuck Schumer hiding the football like it’s bad cop, bad cop like they’re not really interested in negotiating. Is that the play going on between the Chief of Staff and the Treasury Secretary, they put proposals in front of them and they stare back like Mount Rushmore?

MCCONNELL: We’re light years apart, not only on the amount of money, $3 trillion vs. $1 trillion, but on the sense of urgency about it, we have a big fight right now about unemployment insurance, but we don’t feel that you should continue this bonus that has made it more lucrative for many workers to stay home as opposed to going back to work. Imagine your neighbor is back at work making less than you are staying home, that doesn’t seem fair.

We want to make sure it’s properly calculated to replace a significant amount of income but not to put you in a position where you’re better off staying home.

People who work in the hospitality field, restaurants, hotels, they have been hit really, really hard so we’re going to send out another round of $1,200 checks to those folks to help them make it through this period, and this period is not going to end until we get a vaccine.

Coronavirus is not going away, we have a surge in Kentucky, in the South, and on the West Coast, and until we get the vaccine I’d like to remind everybody where I’m at, practice social distancing, it’s the single best thing we can do to prevent the spread.

MEINERS: What are you saying to the GOP senators who say let’s don’t do any more stimulus packages, what would they say to the voters who are losing their $600 checks starting at midnight tonight?

MCCONNELL: Everybody’s gotta make their best call here.  As I’ve said, I’ve got 15-20 members who probably won’t vote for any version of this because they think we’ve added enough to the national debt already.  I respect that opinion.  It’s not my opinion, it’s not the President’s opinion.  To do another package, we have to work out a deal with the Democrats, and that’s what we’re working on?

MEINERS: Are you and the President individually working on this package even though Secretary Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Meadows working?

MCCONNELL: Well, yeah, the President is not actually in the meetings with Pelosi and Schumer.  Mnuchin and Meadows are.  Then they report back to me, they come back to my office, and we’re all in the loop.

There’s not much movement and that’s why this unemployment problem has not been solved and it becomes worse today.

So we need to get together next week and fix this.

They ask for $3 trillion, you ask for $1 trillion, is there a chance it will move to $2?

Well, we need to reach an agreement somehow, it cannot be one party only.

What’s happened here is the political environment has deteriorated significantly since we were able to get everybody in the same place back in March and April.  We’re four months closer to the election, and the Democrats are not being very cooperative, but in spite of that the American people expect us to get an outcome, and we’re going to keep working until we do.

MEINERS: President Trump is continually slamming mail-in voting for the November 3 election.  I know you already put up a hand on that.  Do you have a problem with mass mailing to keep people out of face-to-face polling places?

MCCONNELL: My view of this is that under the Constitution every state is responsible for conducting elections and each state should have the freedom to deal with this.  Kentucky did it very skillfully.  We had to delay the primaries.  The Republican Secretary of State Mike Adams and the Democratic governor reached an agreement.  We had a successful primary.  It did involve way more mail-in votings than we’ve had in the past, I’m not a huge fan of that, but if we’re int he midst of a pandemic, and that’s what a particular state decides needs to be done, then so be it.

What I want to make sure everybody knows is that there will be an election November 3. Exactly how it’s conducted will not be determined by the federal government; that will be done in every single state.

Have you asked Governor Beshear why he hasn’t spent the money, the relief money, the federal government has sent?

We just found it out yesterday when the Treasury issued the report and as of June 30, 94% of the state money has not been spent.  I assume he has the option not to spend it, but what I’m saying is don’t ask us for more unless you’ve already used or prepared dto use what we’ve already sent you.

MEINERS: Appreciate the time today, Senator.  Thanks a bunch.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.  I’m sorry for the audio interruptions there.  We’re working off cells, so there you go.  I’m working from my dining room table at home.

Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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