Four Strikes & You’re Out? Andy Barr attacks Chamber of Commerce as Chamber props up Andy Barr

Something’s strange at the US Chamber of Commerce.

In May, the Chamber threw $175,000 behind the re-election campaign of Andy Barr, with this commercial airing across Central Kentucky’s 6th District:

The problem is… Andy Barr doesn’t support the Chamber of Commerce. In fact, he’s gone out of his way to flout the Chamber’s political agenda.

The ad claims that Kentucky is “under attack” from Obamacare, the Affordable Health Care Act that created the Kynect marketplace and has so far extended health care coverage to over 400,000 people. The Chamber’s ad claims that Andy Barr wants to “fix” Obamacare. But Andy Barr has said emphatically, time and again, that he does not want to “fix” Obamacare at all — Andy Barr wants nothing less than a full repeal and Andy Barr will not be satisfied until Kynect has been dismantled and those 400,000 people have their insurance coverage ripped right out of their hands.

Moreover — the Chamber of Commerce isn’t actually in favor of a full repeal of Obamacare. The President of the Chamber of Commerce said earlier this year that he and the Chamber want to see it fixed:

“The administration is obviously committed to keeping the law in place, so the Chamber’s not out opposing it,” Donahue said in his remarks this week. Instead, Donahue vowed to continue “working pragmatically to fix those parts of Obamacare that can be fixed while doing everything possible to make regulations and mandates as manageable as possible for business.”

That puts Barr and the Chamber of Commerce directly at odds… and it’s not the first time. Now, the Chamber may just be working to purposeful mislead and deceive voters in the 6th District with the TV ad above, but it actually fits a pattern of behavior for Andy Barr. On issue after issue, the Chamber is all in for one thing, and Andy Barr’s doing the exact opposite.

Which raises the question, why would the Chamber continue to support Andy Barr? They’re paying to elect a guy who may help them on a few of their multi-national corporation issues, but on their central policy priorities, and their important long term goals, the Chamber is putting their money into a candidate who’s actively undermining their work. They’re essentially wasting their money twice.

THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Andy Barr was in favor, the Chamber of Commerce was against. 

In May, the Chamber of Commerce threw millions of dollars behind a handful of House and Senate candidates. Their senior political strategist said that the Chamber was going to target and support only Republicans who had worked to avert last year’s government shutdown:

Mr. Reed also said that, in the wake of last year’s government shutdown, the chamber was throwing its financial and political might behind candidates who the group thinks could help lift Congress out of partisan gridlock.

“Candidates that run on shutting down the government are a threshold issue for the Chamber of Commerce,” Mr. Reed said. “We believe in growth stability and governing, and in this first effort we’ll be supporting 10-plus campaigns that believe in that mantra, and that’s the direction we’re going in this summer and into the fall.”

One of the campaigns the Chamber chose to support was Andy Barr. But that’s odd, since Andy Barr supported the government shutdown.

After voting Wednesday night against the final deal that reopened the government and extended the debt ceiling, Barr told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he had reflected on his campaign promises and his daughters who stand to inherit a massive national debt. He was adamant that he had not considered the political ramifications.

You know what? I don’t care, and I am not focused on politics,” Barr said. “This is not about politics. This is about the next generation.”

Either the Chamber of Commerce is lying and working to deceive voters, and their membership, or they’re getting taken to the cleaners by Andy Barr.

IMMIGRATION REFORM: Andy Barr opposes immigration reform, the Chamber of Commerce is in favor of it.

The Chamber of Commerce has worked actively with the AFL/CIO and other powerful pro-”amnesty” interests to push immigration reform through the Senate last year and earlier this year, Chamber president Tom Donahue wrote a letter, signed by 636 corporate entities (from Facebook to Hewlitt Packard to Halliburton), to House Speaker John Boehner, pleading with him to lead his GOP majority down the path to immigration reform:

“Failure to act is not an option,” the letter stated. “We cannot afford to be content and watch a dysfunctional immigration system work against our overall national interest. In short, immigration reform is an essential element of a jobs agenda and economic growth. It will add talent, innovation, investment, products, businesses, jobs, and dynamism to our economy.”

In May, Donahue reiterated his point more starkly:

We’ll be absolutely crazy if we don’t take advantage of having passed an immigration bill out of the Senate. Going back and doing it again might be harder and do something rational in the House and put it together and let’s get the three or four things we really need there. And we’ve got a lot of heat on that and we’re going to put a lot more.
[...] If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016. I mean, think about that. Think about who the voters are.


And then just yesterday, in the wake of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in along the border, Donahue wrote:

The business community and its partners will continue to make the case for meaningful reform. We’re going to use every tool and resource at our disposal. And we’re going to keep pushing our leaders to do the right thing for our country, if not before the election, then after—perhaps during a lame-duck session.

Yet when it comes to Andy Barr, the Chamber of Commerce is using every tool and resource at its disposal to block immigration reform. Barr’s continued opposition to the type of level headed reform America’s business community and manufacturers are pleading for in order to stimulate the American economy and create a more stable and growing job base is a slap in the face to Chamber president Tom Donahue.

Andy Barr isn’t just making Donahue and the Chamber look stupid, he’s making them look impotent.

THE EX/IM BANK: The Chamber of Commerce Defends It, Andy Barr seeks to End It.

Andy Barr sits on the House Financial Services Committee. The committee is run by Jeb Hensarling of Texas. Hensarling is on the war path against the Export/Import Bank. Hensarling and the Tea Party want to destroy it, while John Boehner and more mainstream Republicans think maybe that’s a step too far. So far, Boehner and the new Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy haven’t acted to stop Hensarling (in large part because they just saw what happened to Eric Cantor and are scared out of their minds), so Hensarling’s been free to press onward — but he doesn’t press on alone. Hensarling, who’s helped funnel at least $42,000 to Andy Barr’s re-election campaign, has enlisted Andy Barr as one of his leading sentry’s in the fight to dismantle the ExIm Bank. Just last week, Barr advanced Hensarling’s cause:


Proponents of the Export-Import Bank tout the agency as a champion of small businesses, but Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., yesterday challenged that claim during a hearing and told the story of of a small Kentucky company that was overwhelmed by related regulations.

Regardless of whatever you might think about the Export-Import Bank and the need to decease it, Barr’s strident opposition to the ExIm is yet another example of the Congressman making the Chamber of Commerce look downright foolish for propping him up.

The Chamber of Commerce is directly at odds with Hensarling and Barr. While Andy Barr works to repeal the ExIm, the Chamber of Commerce is fighting to salvage it. They’ve even set up an entire webpage debunking the exact kinds of myths Andy Barr is so busily trotting out… at the same exact time they have set up an entire webpage supporting Andy Barr.

For the Chamber of Commerce all this adds up to one big mess. Either the Chamber is wasting its money to buy a candidate’s office so that the candidate can actively work to undermine all the policies they’re simultaneously paying big money to advance, or the Chamber’s President is being willfully ignored by a set of rogue political actors within his own organization.

Time Magazine is out today with an article exploring how the Chamber of Commerce, with the help of Mitch McConnell, is “saving the GOP establishment at the ballot box” and while the article is certain to enrage conservatives and Tea Partiers in Kentucky, they can take some solace in the fact that, so far, in Kentucky’s 6th District, the Chamber of Commerce is supporting a pro-shutdown Republican who opposes the Chamber’s agenda on issue after issue, from immigration to health care to the Export Import bank. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.

Elisabeth Jensen Challenges Andy Barr to Give Up His First Class Flights and Too Big To Fail Campaign Donors

“Hard working moms in Kentucky know that every penny saved counts – but Congressman Andy Barr is wasting our tax dollars to benefit himself.”

That’s what Elisabeth Jensen says in a release out Wednesday afternoon in which she challenges Andy Barr to forgo 5 Wasteful Perks, including the first class air fares he votes to give himself and to reject campaign contributions from the Big Banks and Investment Firms that got bailed out by the American people (and which heavily underwrite Andy Barr’s candidacy).

Here are Jenesn’s five with more info at her website. Andy Barr is sending a stewardess back from First Calss with his answer so it may take some time.

Elisabeth Jensen Pledged To Reject these 5 Wasteful Perks Abused by Congressman Andy Barr:

1.  Elisabeth will refuse to send taxpayer funded campaign-style mailers; Congressman Barr has been criticized for abusing this perk and is far and away the top spender in the Kentucky delegation.

2.  Elisabeth will vote to end taxpayer spending on first-class airfare for members of Congress; Congressman Barr voted to protect taxpayer funded first class travel.

3.  Elisabeth will join the Kentucky families she represents and purchase health insurance through kynect, Kentucky’s healthcare connection; Congressman Barr voted again and again to repeal or defund kynect which means he also voted to protect taxpayer funded healthcare for members of Congress for their entire lifetimes.

4.  Elisabeth will refuse to accept campaign contributions from banks and investment houses that received taxpayer bailouts; Congressman Barr was “one of the leading recipients of money from the masters of Wall Street,” and has accepted tens of thousands from bailed out banks.

5.  Elisabeth will refuse to hold secret meetings with lobbyists on taxpayer time and will publicly disclose her congressional schedule; Congressman Barr is refusing to post his meeting schedule, including meetings with lobbyists for big banks who are contributing to his campaign.

The League of Empowered Grandmas: Elsie Case smacks McConnell’s hand as he reaches for the cookie jar

As usual in the cacophony of the US Senate race, the one always clear and always straightforward voice has stepped in to clarify the “Mediscare” issue. In an email to supporters, Alison Lundergan Grimes’ grandmother, Elsie Case, nails it:

Once elected U.S. Senator, I know Alison will work hard to protect the benefits and programs that seniors like me have paid into over a lifetime of hard work. She knows we deserve what we’ve earned.

She will support policies that strengthen programs like Social Security and Medicare, while also preserving these programs for our children and grandchildren.

And that is the point. McConnell and his supporters can bandy about all the want the lame defenses that the Ryan budget didn’t target “current” recipients of Medicare for privatization. The point is less that that someone like Donald Disney is going to wake up tomorrow and find that his Medicare benefits have been slashed by Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republicans… it’s that you might wake up tomorrow and find that your Medicare benefits have been slashed by Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republicans.

Here’s a funny little fact about time: the Grandparents of today raise the grandparents of tomorrow.

The Republican Party wants to privatize Medicare. They want to end Medicare as we know it. And in fact, they have always wanted to end Medicare, even from its very conception. The goal of Medicare privatization is to rip the assurance of medical care away from the seniors of tomorrow.

If you are working today, you are paying into Medicare*. If you’re retiring next week, you expect it to be there. If you’re retiring in five years, or ten years, or twenty years… you expect it to be there because that’s what you’ve worked for. The whole idea of paying into Medicare is that you will have it when you need it. The whole idea of the Ryan plan and of Republican attempts to privatize Medicare — ideas Mitch McConnell supports —  is to chip away at it any way they can and by pinching off its branches, starving its roots.

(* If you’re like one of tens of millions of Americans who isn’t working today because the Republicans spent 8 years cratering the economy, then you’ll be in a really, really terrible position when Medicare gets privatized and you find yourself at the whim of private insurers.)

In 2011 when Paul Ryan was pushing the budget McConnell claimed would “empower Grandma” on the private market there was a reason the AARP opposed Ryan’s plan. The AARP is one of America’s largest membership organizations… and chances are pretty damn good that if you aren’t over the age of 65, then you’re probably not a member of AARP.

But America’s seniors today get together to fight for America’s seniors tomorrow. For you little ones out there, imagine a bunch of Marvel Avengers with grey hair, false teeth and the supernatural power of being older and wiser than you.

The Republican agenda — an agenda that only gets stronger if Republicans take over the United States Senate — is to destroy Medicare. That’s what Elsie Case is telling you, and that’s what Donald Disney is telling you.

But Mitch McConnell and his campaign don’t listen to their elders. They’re too busy disrespecting them. And they call that “empowering Grandma.”

Well… there’s an empowered Grandma in their midst and it doesn’t seem like she’s alone.



McConnell: “I Voted for the Ryan Budget”

Yesterday the McConnell campaign was bending over backwards trying to push out half-formed fact checks in an effort to d-i-s-t-a-n-c-e Mitch from the privatization of Medicare he supports. Unfortunately for Mitch, he’s on the record saying “I voted for the Ryan budget.”

Here’s the latest ad from the Grimes campaign. It seems clear, no matter how frantically Team Mitch hits that panic button, McConnell’s support for privatizing Medicare is going to be an ongoing issue in this race:

In Battle of the Ads… Mitch McConnell Lies to (and steals from) Your Grandma

Have you seen Alison Lundergan Grimes’ new campaign commercial? It features a retired coal miner making a very clear point about Republican attempts to privatize Medicare — something they’ve been trying desperately to do since their efforts to render Medicare unconstitutional fifty years ago failed. And an effort Mitch McConnell has supported. Here’s the ad:

The ad rankled the McConnell campaign.They said the fact that Grimes is hitting McConnell over the privatization of Medicare was proof that the Grimes camp was hitting “the panic button.”

“It says a lot about the candidacy of Alison Lundergan Grimes that she’s a full four months away from the election and she already hit the panic button by resorting to the oldest, most cynical attack in the Obama playbook to scare Kentucky seniors,” said Allison Moore, McConnell’s spokeswoman. “The simple reality is that Sen. McConnell has fought to protect Medicare, while Alison Lundergan Grimes and her political benefactors have raided it by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare.”

Later, fact checkers took a look at the Grimes ad and they questioned some of its points. The AP says that McConnell “cast no such vote” and then goes on to explain that McConnell supported the bill in question:

McConnell cast no such vote.

The bill he supported in 2011, on which the ad’s claim is based, proposed moving ahead on a plan in the House by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to privatize Medicare over time. 

In emails and tweets, the McConnell folks seized on the one line — “cast no such vote” — and conveniently ignored the very next line — “the bill he supported.”

The McConnell vote the ad refers to is a procedural one that McConnell did in fact cast. McConnell cast a “Yea” in a losing 40-57 vote in the US Senate to consider the Ryan budget… a bill which the AP fact checkers say McConnell supported.

And if you have any doubt about the fact that McConnell supported the Ryan Budget’s privatization of Medicare, you need look no further than this video of McConnell himself advocating for and explaining the benefits of the Ryan Budget, just two weeks after his vote to proceed with consideration of the Ryan Budget that Mitch McConnell clearly and without doubt supported:

At this moment, I will empower your imagination to consider what McConnell’s “empowerment of Grandma” might look like.

Done? How’d Grandma do on the private market? Did she pick the right penny stocks? Did she have a good time getting hosed by unhelpful and rude customer service reps on the other end of an interminable hold line?

The McConnell people also seized on another point from the fact checkers. The guy in the Grimes video would’ve been exempt from the privatization of Medicare that Mitch McConnell supports.

Here’s Mitch McConnell’s top advisor tweeting out the truth!

So according to Team Mitch — the only grandmas they want to bankrupt are the grandmothers of tomorrow! That’s a hell of a plan for the future. And it’s an admission of guilt, too: Mitch McConnell supports the privatization of Medicare. His own campaign tweets so.

And it gets worse. It’s almost seems like it’s the McConnell campaign that’s hitting the panic button, not Grimes. For example, let’s revisit the quote from the McConnell campaign about the Grimes ad:

“The simple reality is that Sen. McConnell has fought to protect Medicare, while Alison Lundergan Grimes and her political benefactors have raided it by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare.”

1) “The simple reality is that Sen. McConnell has fought to protect Medicare”
McConnell has only “fought to protect” Medicare if you accept Mitch McConnell’s argument that privatization of Medicare is the way one protects Medicare. It’s like saying that the only way to fight to protect Mitch McConnell is to remove Mitch McConnell from office (in which case, count us in… let’s all fight to protect Mitch McConnell).

2) “Alison Lundergan Grimes and her political benefactors have raided [Medicare] by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare”
This claim is demonstrably and unequivocally false. Alison Lundergan Grimes is not yet a US Senator so it’s sort of impossible for her to raid pretty much anything. And even if she were already a US Senator, the McConnell campaign is flat out lying to the voters of Kentucky and to members of the press when they claim that Obamacare raided $700 billion from Medicare. That’s simply not true. It has never been true and it has been proven laughably false time and again.

Republicans keep trotting out this false $700 billion claim and it never ceases to be false. It was false in 2012 when Mitt Romney was pretending it was true [here] and it was false last month when Karl Rove’s Super PAC, Crossroads GPS, was claiming it was true [here] and it remains false today when the McConnell campaign falsely and deceitful continue to claim that it is true.

But Mitch McConnell doesn’t have a problem lying to Kentucky voters. Here’s the line again in a fundraising email his team sent out today:

Why does Alison Lundergan Grimes have to lie about Senator McConnell’s record of leadership for Kentucky? Because she is trying to hide her own record of being an avid supporter of Barack Obama’s liberal agenda. While Mitch has always stood strong for Kentucky seniors, Alison Lundergan Grimes supported the $700 billion raid of Medicare to pay for Obamacare.

Again — it’s unclear how Alison supported a raid that never actually took place and it is false to claim that the there was a $700 billion raid when as point of historical record, there was none.

But you know what is true? The Paul Ryan Budget that Mitch McConnell supported, like the one which would “empower Grandma,” actually would have raided $700 Billion from Medicare.

It is Addison Mitchell McConnell, not Alison Lundergan Grimes, who “supported the $700 billion raid of Medicare.”

Not to be deterred by facts, the McConnell campaign compiled all of their lies and selective quotes and abuse of the truth together into this new fast-and-loosely concocted campaign ad out today:

It’s sad that after 30 years in office, Mitch McConnell doesn’t have an actual record to stand on and instead must resort to lies and distortion in order to protect himself. You’d think that a Minority Leader would be more interested in leading… and would have actual factual arguments to make on his own behalf.

But instead, Mitch puts out that ad that repeats his $700 billion lie and then attempts to scare Kentucky’s seniors.

And all that from a man who wants to “empower Grandma”?

Is that how you empower your grandmother? By lying to her? By scaring her?

If so, if you treat your grandma the way Mitch wants to treat your grandma, then clearly your grandmother deserves better.

In the Horse Capital of the World, Andy Barr’s Hilarious Defense of Horse Torture Stance Blows Up In His Face

If you’ve been following along, you know that 6th District Congressman Garland H. Barr IV is one of a cabal of Kentucky representatives actively seeking to defend an antiquated horse show practice that involves torturing horses. Barr, along with Sens. McConnell and Paul, and Rep. Hal Rogers make up this stable of pro-Horse Torture politicos and they’ve been fighting behind the scenes to block new legislation that would put an end to this type of horse torture. [See: here, here.]

Well, in an interview with the Herald Leader Editorial Board recently the question of Andy Barr’s support of horse torture came up and Andy shot back with an unintentionally hilarious explanation:

This week’s Lexington Junior League Charity Horse Show is at risk of guilt by association.

No less than U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R- Lexington, during a recent meeting with the editorial board, cited the 77-year-old show as an example of our state’s Tennessee walking horse tradition.

“Oh, no, absolutely not,” a staffer at the American Saddlebred Horse Association assured us. The Lexington-based association represents riders and horses now competing at The Red Mile in the world’s largest outdoor Saddlebred show, the first leg of their sport’s triple crown.

That’s right!

Andy Barr says the Lexington Junior League endorses horse torture! And if horse torture’s good enough for the Junior League Horse Show then goshdarnit, horse torture’s good enough for Garland H. Barr IV.

Clearly — the Junior League was having none of it. They shot down Andy’s absurd (and absurdly hilarious) contention in no uncertain terms. If you’re like Andy Barr and you want to see tortured horses tortured right in front of your eyes, then the Junior League Horse Show is not for you.

If you’d like to see a pretty amazing spectacle of horse showmanship conducted by horse lovers in front of an audience of Americans who don’t want to see horses tortured, you should check out this week’s Junior League Horse Show. Contrary to what Congressman Andy Barr says, they don’t torture horses there.

And seriously — the Junior League Horse Show is great. I’ve been. Even if you have no idea what’s going on (and I didn’t) it’s entertaining enough just trying to figure out how the judges come up with their scores. Also: it’s for charity. Added bonus: they don’t torture horses.

It’s happening right now and you should go (unless you’re like Andy Barr and you only want to see horses that’ve been tortured):

2014 Show Schedule Morning Session Evening Session
Wednesday, July 9th 9:00am 5:30pm
Thursday, July 10th 9:00am 6:30pm
Friday, July 11th 9:00am 6:30pm
Saturday, July 12th N/A 6:30pm

Frankly, I’m surprised at Andy. Not that he supports horse torture… that’s been clear for a while. He obviously doesn’t have a very high opinion of women [see: here, here], but as a fellow Blue Devil and Lexington native it’s almost unfathomable that Andy Barr ran afoul of one of the primary rules of Lexington living:

Don’t ever, ever, ever cross the Junior League. 

Just don’t.

One person who isn’t likely to run afoul of the Junior League is Elisabeth Jensen, Andy Barr’s opponent in this November’s 6th District Election. Ms. Jensen is the only candidate on the ballot for Congress in the 6th District who is on the record opposing horse torture. [See: Here, Here.]

In summary:

If you want horses to be tortured, vote for Andy Barr. On the other hand, if you think that horses should not be tortured, vote for Elisabeth Jensen. (And go to the Junior League Charity Horse Show.)

The anti-horse torture bill Andy Barr and Mitch McConnell oppose isn’t some animal rights claptrap, either. It’s got 297 co-sponsors in the House of Represntatives and 57 in the Senate. That’s a huge bipartisan reality — all but a very few extreme reps in Washington are opposed to horse torture.

The sponsor of the House bill is Kentucky’s own 1st District Conservative Republica, Exxon Ed Whitffield. This web page agrees with Ed Whitfield on virtually nothing… but when it comes to not wanting horses to be tortured… Andy Barr and Mitch McConnell are on one side of the fence, and Ed Whitfield and the majority of the House of Representatives and a majority of the United States Senate are on the other.

In an age when the folks in DC can agree on nothing, all but a very few extremist horse-torture apologists agree that horse torture is wrong.

Andy Barr, unfortunately, wants to continue to defend horse torture.

For his part, Ed Whitfield expects his bill will come up for a vote… and Andy Barr and Mitch McConnell won’t be able to stop it. Whitfield told USA Today:

“Despite intense opposition from Tennessee pro-soring groups, I am confident this legislation will come to a vote,” Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., the chief sponsor, told the Gannett Washington Bureau.

“It is difficult for even well-funded opposition to deny the House of Representatives the opportunity to vote on a bill that has 68 percent of the House as co-sponsors, and overwhelming support from veterinary groups and horse organizations in every state,” Whitfield said.

And here’s some video of Whitfield and others from a week or so ago if you’d like to see a brief bit of the horse torture Andy Barr defends:

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