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In a speech on the Senate floor today, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell  of Kentucky will praise and welcome a group of Tea Party protesters rallying on Capitol Hill.

Politico has a preview of the speech, which comes after Senate President Harry Reid blamed the Tea Party from blocking compromises in congress.

“In my view, the tea party has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the most important issues of the day,” McConnell, of Kentucky, will say, according to prepared remarks. “It’s helped focus the debate. It’s provided a forum for Americans who felt left out of the process to have a voice and make a difference. And it’s already leading to good results.”

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Democratic consultant Paul Begala has penned an op-ed for The Daily Beast arguing that the small government rhetoric of Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, and Representative Hal Rogers is hypocritical, given Kentucky’s dependence on federal money.

Take Kentucky, please. Kentucky has given us Makers Mark bourbon, Churchill Downs, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kentucky has also given us Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers. While Rogers was once dubbed the “Prince of Pork” and McConnell has hauled so much pork he’s at risk for trichinosis, they are now converts to Sen. Paul’s anti-government gospel.  McConnell says President Obama’s new budget is “unserious” and “irresponsible” because it merely cuts projected deficits by $1.1 trillion.  “The people who voted for a new direction in November have a five-word response,” McConnell said, “We don’t have the money.”

Fair enough.  So here’s my two-word response: Defund Kentucky. Cut it off the federal dole. Kentucky is a welfare state to begin with. The conservative Tax Foundation says the Bluegrass State received $1.51 back from Washington for every dollar it paid in federal taxes in 2005 (the most recent data I could find on the Tax Foundation’s website.)  We need to listen to the people of Kentucky. They don’t want any more federal spending in their state—and they certainly must be appalled by the notion that they’re a bunch of welfare queens, living off the taxes paid by blue states like California(which only gets 81 cents back on the dollar), Connecticut (69 cents), Illinois (75 cents) and New York (79 cents).

The issue was briefly raised during Paul’s race for the U.S. Senate. In recent years, we’ve seen many rural writers and advocates take increasingly bold stands against federal program cuts. From Post Office closures to poorly-expanded internet access, rural areas often see the effects of altered spending first. Of course, Louisville benefits from federal spending as well. Many previously-proud earmark earners say now is the time to end the process and close the deficit. Others, however, argue that in times of recession, a balanced budget should not be a high priority. When asked about the cuts in various federal budget proposals in the House, Third District Congressman John Yarmuth told WFPL:

“A lot of us, for whom some of these cuts the Republicans have proposed and even cuts like the ones the Obama administration has proposed would be much more acceptable if we didn’t have 10% unemployment and so many people suffering.”

What are your thoughts on how to square rural difficulties with small-government politics?

The Lexington Herald-Leader points out that an upcoming Rand Paul fundraiser seemingly violates a pledge the Senate candidate made during the primary.

When Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul is feted at a ritzy Washington fund-raiser later this month, he’ll be voiding a promise made last year to shun money from lawmakers who supported government bank bailouts.

Paul, a favored son of the Tea Party movement, pledged on August 31, 2009, to reject campaign contributions from any U.S. senator who voted for a bank-industry bailout last year and challenged his opponents in the primary election to do the same.

The Bowling Green eye surgeon issued the challenge after learning that his key Republican opponent, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, was slated to attend a Washington fund-raiser co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and several other senators who voted for the controversial bailout in 2008.

The paper goes on to credit left-leaning blog Barefoot and Progressive for noticing the pledge is no longer on Paul’s website.

Paul’s campaign tells the newspaper that Paul is attempting to build unity in the party, and the story notes that the change could have been predicted.

On Monday, Paul’s campaign operatives focused on his attempts to mend the libertarian-leaning candidates relationships with establishment Republicans.

Paul “has said many times that his first call after the primary would be to Mitch McConnell,” said campaign chairman David Adams, adding that Paul realizes he’ll need the support of various factions within the party.

[edit]

Paul’s about-face is typical of the realities candidates that run on anti-establishment platforms face when seeking higher office, said Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia.

“He’s coming to terms with the fact that establishment Republicans have serious doubts about him and he needs them,” Sabato said. “He’ll lose in the general unless he unites the mainstream Republicans and the tea party people.”


Former LEO Editor Cary Stemle has penned a story for Time about Saturday’s GOP unity rally.

Whatever discomfort party insiders may have with Paul, none of it was voiced publicly at the Saturday morning event. Everyone who spoke at the rally — from former Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — stressed the importance of retaining the seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Bunning, and sought to unify the race by invoking ire against President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

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