Mitch McConnell

Sen. McConnell takes financial industry cash, opposes financial industry reform

ThinkProgress.org reports that this morning Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the Senate floor to announce his opposition to financial reform legislation. Sen. McConnell’s speech comes just one day after Fox News reported that Sen. McConnell held a private meeting last week with leading Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers. Also at the meeting was Sen.

Big Money Mitch Uses Clout for Economic Development… in Armenia. Why?

Faced with a deteriorating economy, a broken health care system, and two wars overseas, Kentuckians expect representation that is focused first and foremost on this country’s problems. So why has Sen. Mitch McConnell spending so much of his time focused on the economic problems in Armenia?

Big Money Mitch was “Thuggish”

Mitch McConnell has a history of siding with big business over the interests of his constituents. But as an incident from 1999 illustrates, this isn’t a consequence of McConnell’s ideology, but rather of his relentless pursuit of campaign money. As this case shows, loyalty to McConnell is defined by a willingness of a business executive to write him a check, and if you who resist – even if you’re a powerful business leader – you get shut out.

Mitch McConnell and the Minimum Wage

From the 1997 until 2007, the federal minimum wage remained at $5.15, even as gas, grocery and other bills escalated[1] . The inflationary pressures were particularly hard on the 1,148,000 Kentuckians who, according to the most recent government data, earn the bare minimum.[2]  This was the longest period the wage did not increase since its inception in 1938.[3]  It should be noted that during that time the salary for U.S. senators increased nearly 24 percent.[4]

Big Money Mitch, Credit Cards, and Banking

Amid a deepening financial crisis, Americans have seen Wall Street get a bailout while they continue to struggle financially with high mortgage payments and mounting credit card debt. Kentucky, as of the fourth quarter of 2007, had the seventh-highest bankruptcy rate in the nation and had seen the rate of personal bankruptcies rise 85.4 percent since the first quarter of 2006.[1]  As of August, mortgage foreclosures in the state were up 37 percent over a year prior.[2]

Big Money Mitch and Big Oil

Few issues have dominated an election like oil and energy did this summer. From foreign policy, to environmental protection, to the economic concerns of the middle class, candidates all over the country devoted a great deal of time to the problem of rising demand for oil and its environmental costs. Over the summer, Sen. Mitch McConnell joined in, observing that “there’s also little doubt … that the single most important issue facing Americans at the moment is the high price of gas at the pump.”[1]

Mitch McConnell and Health Care

Every year, health care costs rise while insurance companies work harder and harder to deny benefits and exclude those with pre-existing conditions from obtaining coverage. Kentucky residents are particularly hard-hit, with 14.9 percent now going without any health insurance at all, and 17.1 percent without a specific source of ongoing primary care.[1]

Big Money Mitch, Wiretapping, and the Telecommunications Industry

In July 2008, Congress gave a “get-out-of-jail free” card to three major telecommunications companies – AT&T, Sprint and Verizon – that had handed over customers’ private telephone records to the government without a warrant. Civil liberties activists and pro-privacy organizations fiercely opposed this provision, which was included in the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The three companies directly and knowingly participated in an illegal program, yet were held above the law by the FISA legislation.

Big Money Mitch, Lobbyists and iPods for Afghans

Mitch McConnell had a staffer, Hunter Bates, who left the senator’s office and became a lobbyist. A lucrative move, Bates began reeling in clients for his “boutique” firm, Bates Capitol Group, which catered to those who wanted and needed access to the powerful senator.

Big Money Mitch and BAE Systems

Although earmarks make up a small amount of the federal budget, they are also the locus of many of the backroom deals between politicians and lobbyists that have corrupted Washington in recent years. This is especially true for congressional leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is better than almost anyone else at getting his way when it comes to inserting language into appropriations bills.