Kentucky voters are angry at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s response to the economic crisis wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. Protesters have taken to protesting outside McConnell’s Louisville office, carrying signs with slogans such as “Mitch Better Have My Money.”
Protests have been organized by Kentucky representatives from the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and other labor groups. They say they’re furious over McConnell’s repeated delays on vital coronavirus relief funds.
According to The Washington Post, the labor protest “marked only the latest in a series of exasperated complaints from Kentuckians directed at McConnell (R), as some locals find themselves frustrated by the absence of their powerful political representative on Capitol Hill. In more than two dozen interviews, out-of-work residents, struggling restaurant owners and other business leaders, as well as a cadre of annoyed food, housing and labor rights groups, all said they are in dire need of more support from Congress — the likes of which McConnell has not been able to provide.”
Unemployed workers say their benefits aren’t enough for them to pay their bills. Some have even have stopped looking for jobs while businesses continue to suffer. Many households are experiencing food insecurity.
“We’re seeing huge numbers of people needing help,” said Jason Bailey, the executive director of the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. “I can’t imagine a state that needs additional relief more than Kentucky does.”
Those interviewed said the $600 unemployment benefit that citizens received after Congress approved the CARES Act has been a critical lifeline. McConnell has argued that the benefit disincentivizes people from looking for work.
“There are some people, I’m sure, that are bringing home more than they were making before the pandemic,” said one man. “But there’s also those of us who’s making a lot less. … What about those of us who need a job, and can’t get a job, because the coronavirus is coming back?” He added: “Democrats and Republicans have made this a fricking political issue when it shouldn’t be political, it ought to be what’s best for the country.”
McConnell has said that his efforts have helped needy Kentuckians.
“Democrats are demanding that we send state and local governments a colossal amount of money, with no relationship to actual need, while they’ve only spent a quarter of the money they’ve already gotten,” he said in a speech earlier this week. “Clearly this isn’t really about COVID at all. Democrats think they smell an opening they have wanted for years — to make Uncle Sam bail out decades of mismanagement and broken policies in places like New York, New Jersey, and California.”
“And so they’ve decided that no working family anywhere in America can get another cent unless they get to create a trillion-dollar slush fund for mismanaged states, completely out of proportion to pandemic needs,” he concluded.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.