McConnell: No capitulation on Obama policies

kentucky Voters rejected them; nation chose divided governance

November 19, 2012 

Your editorial on the results of the recent election, as usual, took quite the one-sided view. And it's unfortunate that in that editorial, the Herald-Leader editorial board left out one of the most important pieces of the political calculus: the views of the people of Kentucky.

On Nov. 6, Kentuckians voted against President Barack Obama and his policies in 116 of 120 counties. He received 38 percent of the vote here. Counties that haven't voted Republican in decades were eager to express their opposition to this administration's agenda. The longtime Democrat congressman in the Lexington area was swept up in the wave, and Republicans picked up four new state House seats and a state Senate seat.

In short, Kentuckians did not, as your editorial board would lead readers to believe, suggest that those of us representing their interests capitulate to the wishes of Obama and his liberal allies in Washington.

As the senator for Kentucky, it's my job to represent Kentuckians' views. That should be obvious, even to your editorial writers.

The fact is, America voted to maintain divided government. They want those who represent them in Washington to go back and take on the challenges we face and produce better results.

Nobody is satisfied with the results of the past two years, but equally important to voters is that no political party currently has a monopoly on the agenda. In 2010, Americans pulled back Obama's majorities when he overreached in the first two years and a Democratic Congress obediently passed Obamacare, the failed stimulus and his big- government agenda. They gave us divided government and reaffirmed it Nov. 6.

That's why my message to Obama after his election victory was that I stand ready and willing to work with him to find solutions that will have support from Republicans and Democrats. That's what the people voted for.

It also happens to be where the solutions to our biggest problems are.

Divided government doesn't equal gridlock. To the contrary, many of our most important achievements have been born out of divided government. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill worked together to overhaul Social Security and the tax code. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress collaborated to pass welfare reform and balance the budget. There's no reason why we can't find common ground today.

One of Obama's most important achievements was when he worked with Congress in 2010 to prevent a tax hike and reach agreement on government spending. I was pleased to work closely with him, Vice President Joe Biden and the administration to make that happen.

Perhaps naively, over the past two years I had high hopes that the president and his team would set the election aside to again join Republicans in finding solutions to confront the alarming problems facing the country. I was wrong.

Instead, they embarked on a partisan re-election campaign that was as brilliant politically as it was destructive practically—and now here we are two years later, confronting the same problems with less time to fix them.

The blame game is over; it is time to get to work. Although the Herald-Leader's editorial board would like me to ignore the people of Kentucky and simply embrace the views of the Obama administration, I can assure the people of Kentucky that will not happen.

If we are to be successful — and I believe we must be — both parties must embrace our respective viewpoints and then come together on behalf of the people we represent to provide solutions to America's challenges.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is Senate Minority Leader.

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