Sen. Mitch McConnell Touts Potential Benefits Of Infrastructure Bill
During a visit with business leaders at Russellville's Logan Economic Alliance for Development offices, the seven-term senator touted the legislation pushed by the Biden administration as a bipartisan bill "passed without a tax increase" that could help his home state.
McConnell is clearly sold on a bill that is expected to use money from unspent pandemic relief funds and other savings plus an anticipated tax revenue boost from economic growth to pay for a smorgasbord of infrastructure items ranging from roads, bridges and railways to electric vehicles and broadband internet.
The senator, though, hardly heaped praise on the Biden administration, saying: "Every step we've taken (under Biden) except infrastructure is in the wrong direction."
He said Kentucky should receive more than $5 billion from the legislation, although White House estimates put that number even higher, at $6.5 billion.
Those dollars are expected to be the solution for a couple of high-profile projects: upgrades and repairs to the Brent Spence Bridge that connects Cincinnati to northern Kentucky and to the Interstate 69 Ohio River bridge connecting Henderson to Evansville, Ind.
Although such projects will dominate the spending, McConnell believes there's enough money to go around for smaller projects.
"Cities and counties in Kentucky are going to get $700 million for infrastructure projects," he said. "That money will be dispersed from Frankfort."
After listening to the concerns of local business leaders, McConnell took time to voice his opposition to what he sees as business-hampering policies started during the coronavirus pandemic that he believes are a continuing drag on the economy.
"We have raging inflation and workforce problems," he said. "The new administration is still looking backward instead of forward."
Although the enhanced unemployment benefits enacted during the pandemic have expired, McConnell pointed to that policy as a reason for plummeting labor force participation rates nationally and in Kentucky.
"We've made it so lucrative (to not work) that people can make a rational decision that they can make more money by staying home," he said.
McConnell also took aim at the Biden-backed Build Back Better Act, a $1.75 trillion social spending package that includes investments to expand social programs and address climate change.
"The Democratic administration is trying to pass another major bill replete with spending and taxes," McConnell said, arguing that such legislation would only add to escalating inflation that saw consumer prices rise by 6.2% from October 2020 to October 2021.
As he has during other stops around the state, McConnell blamed Democrats' policies for contributing to that inflation. He held out hope that those policies will be rejected by the electorate in 2022.
McConnell called a Republican victory in this month's Virginia governor's race and other strong showings by the GOP "a referendum on the popularity of the Biden administration."
"The president's approval rating is now down below 40%," McConnell said. "I don't see it improving much. I think it's going to be a very good year for Republicans in 2022."
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.
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