Grimes' jobs plan lacks price tag, estimate of jobs it would create

syoungman@herald-leader.comMarch 20, 2014 

HOPKINSVILLE — In the two months since likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes unveiled her job-creation plan, the candidate has held events across the state to promote the 24-page document, including one Wednesday night in Western Kentucky.

It has received endorsements from Grimes' allies, including former President Bill Clinton, who waved a copy of the plan as he spoke at a fundraiser in Louisville last month. And almost every day since Grimes released the plan in Prestonsburg, her campaign has sent out a news release reminding reporters that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has not presented a jobs plan of his own.

Although Grimes has repeatedly touted the specificity and length of her plan, she could not, in an interview Wednesday night with the Herald-Leader, quantify how many jobs she thought it would produce, how much it might cost or how she would pay for it.

Instead, she called the plan's potential "limitless."

"Well at the end of the day, if we follow the plan, it is unlimited the possibilities that are out there for uplift throughout Kentucky regardless of the area of the state," Grimes said. "If done properly, there's no one single bullet that is going to solve all of our economic woes, but this is about doing the right thing over a sufficient period of time."

A significant portion of the plan would require substantial federal investment, including numerous unspecified tax breaks for businesses and billions for road projects, something Grimes acknowledged during the interview.

But when pressed about how she would pay for the plan and whether that would involve raising taxes or borrowing more money, Grimes returned to a critique of McConnell.

"I think this recognizes the need for restrained spending, but for a recognition of values that are important here in Kentucky that Mitch McConnell has lost sight of a long time ago," she said. "And you only have to look to the government shutdown of 16 days that Mitch McConnell put forth and didn't step forward to end until it was affecting political numbers that there's a cost to partisanship: $24 billion. Here in Kentucky, $127 million that was lost as a result of that government shutdown."

Asked again whether there was a specific price tag for her plan, Grimes responded:

"This plan itself, when you don't have the hyper-partisanship that Mitch McConnell brings, when you have someone that's focusing on the people as opposed to partisan politics and ending the loopholes that we see Mitch McConnell has given sending businesses overseas, when you have someone that's interested in balancing the budget the right way by cutting waste, fraud and abuse and someone who is going to tackle problems that, for instance currency manipulation, that could actually help to not just grow jobs but to bring millions of dollars — $470 billion to the nation, curb our deficit $165 billion — that's the pay-for in this plan," Grimes said.

Just as it was for 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, labeling China a currency manipulator is a key part of Grimes' plan. However, many economic experts have repeatedly condemned the idea as misguided and out of date. Punishing China by officially saying that the country artificially keeps its prices low is a good way to start a trade war, the economists have argued.

"I think we are asking China to do what every other developed country has done, and that is to make sure that they aren't artificially keeping their currency low to the detriment of not just Kentucky but American businesses and products," Grimes said. "And by doing so, to my knowledge, it hasn't caused any trade wars in the past."

The McConnell campaign has repeatedly mocked the plan, citing a number of redundancies where an idea in the plan already exists.

"Apparently Alison Lundergan Grimes thinks giving staged speeches about current law every six weeks and calling it a jobs plan is what a senator does," said Allison Moore, spokeswoman for McConnell.

The Grimes campaign said about 450 people attended her speech in Hopkinsville — no small feat considering Hopkinsville High School was playing in the Sweet 16 Wednesday. The friendly crowd repeatedly cheered as Grimes assailed McConnell and talked up her jobs plan.

Eight months from the General Election and about eight months since she entered the race, Grimes is at about the halfway point of her effort to defeat McConnell.

"I'm excited about what we have done," Grimes said after the speech. "Even more encouraged by what we're going to be doing over the course of the next eight months. I'm just honored to be a part of what is this very big process."

Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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