Businesses and workers "furious" with McConnell over response to Kentucky's economic crisis: report

"I can’t imagine a state that needs additional relief more than Kentucky does"

Published August 11, 2020 10:53AM (EDT)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

On Thursday, August 6, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was the target of an angry protest in Louisville, Kentucky — where members of labor unions (including the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters) railed against him for blocking coronavirus aid. And that protest was not an anomaly: journalist Tony Romm, in a Washington Post article published on August 11, reports that the August 6 protest was only one of many expressions of dissatisfaction with McConnell over economic conditions in the Bluegrass State.

"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," Romm reports. "About five months after Kentucky reported its first loss of life from COVID-19, its economy continues to sputter amid the coronavirus pandemic."

According to Romm, "Many unemployed workers say their benefit checks aren't enough to afford their bills, and some here simply have stopped looking for jobs. Businesses say they're also hemorrhaging cash, and local governments fear they're on the precipice of financial ruin too."

One of the disgruntled Kentucky residents the Post interviewed was truck driver Kenny Saylor, who told the publication that in April, "Everything went south for me . . . I'm scared to death of losing everything."

Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, told The Post that Kentucky's economic situation is dire — explaining, "We're seeing huge numbers of people needing help . . . I can't imagine a state that needs additional relief more than Kentucky does."

Michael Holland, a resident of Lexington, Kentucky and industrial engineer who has been out of work since February, was relying on unemployment benefits of $600 per week. But those benefits have expired.

Holland, who is angry with McConnell, told The Post, "There are some people, I'm sure, that are bringing home more than they were making before the pandemic. 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?"

Michael Halligan, who is seeing a heavy demand at the food banks he runs in Kentucky, told the Post, "You can speculate on the impact on the various programs and how that influenced the economy. Based on our historical knowledge, if economics tighten, food insecurity will increase."

This year, McConnell — who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984 — is up for reelection, and his challenger is centrist Democrat Amy McGrath. Democratic strategists would love to unseat the Senate majority leader, but a Morning Consult poll released in early August found McConnell leading McGrath by 17%. Other polls, however, have shown him ahead by only 5% (Quinnipiac) or only 3% (Bluegrass Data Analytics).

By Alex Henderson

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