Over the last two weeks in Kentucky, we have had our two highest weekly coronavirus case counts yet. Meanwhile, nationwide, we are again seeing more than 60,000 cases a day on average. Economically, our true unemployment rate in Kentucky seems to be over 10%. Compared to other wealthy countries, our inability to control this virus and help our citizens who are struggling is staggering.
When I pressed Sen. McConnell during our debate on why he had not taken action in months to help Kentuckians during this pandemic, he just laughed, while I shared my plan for Kentucky.
As voters make their final choices, I will tell them what I told Sen. McConnell: We can rebuild Kentucky--stronger than before--and we must do so.
The first step to rebounding from this crisis is to get immediate aid to families, small businesses, and our state and local governments. Every day we wait is another lost job, another family at risk of eviction. We need to extend unemployment benefits, provide another direct stimulus payment, continue to help our small businesses, including with PPE protections and PPP loans, and provide renters assistance to get families through this crisis.
This should have been done months ago.
Gov. Andy Beshear has also called for more state and local government aid, which we need to protect the jobs and pensions of our teachers, firefighters, and first responders, and the federal government must also provide the separate funding needed for test-and-trace programs.
Sen. McConnell has avoided doing any of this, instead convincing the White House it’s better not to negotiate at all. In the middle of a national crisis, his inaction is a dereliction of duty.
Sen. McConnell could find
$500 billion for a slush fund for big corporations and $250 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, but apparently there’s no resources for Kentucky as families and small businesses continue to struggle. We can and must provide these resources now.
After getting aid to families, the next step to rebuilding Western Kentucky is protecting and expanding access to affordable health care. McConnell is actively fighting to overturn the ACA. If he succeeds, close to 500,000 people in Kentucky would lose their health insurance.
If elected, I will protect people with pre-existing conditions, protect our rural hospitals, lower prescription drug prices (there are at least six bipartisan bills on McConnell’s desk that would do so), and fight for an “Uncle Sam” health care option that would ensure that the more than 200,000 Kentuckians who still lack health care could get it.
Then we need to invest in us--in Western Kentucky. That means passing the RECLAIM Act, which would create jobs in Western Kentucky while cleaning up our environment. That means investing in universal broadband because we cannot afford to have 75% of people in some counties, like in Hancock, without access to high speed broadband.
We can’t stop there. We need to revitalize our unions and raise the minimum wage so that families in Bowling Green don’t need to work 67 hours a week just to afford a one bedroom apartment. And while we make work pay well again, we must also address the racial inequities that have persisted in our country for too long. Doing so begins with closing the school funding gap, creating universal pre-K, and making home ownership more affordable for all Americans.
The last several months have shown us that we cannot just say that we want to go back to normal. The reality is that normal is what got us here.
The good news is that over the next few weeks, we have a chance to vote for the positive change our commonwealth desperately needs. This election is about the future of Kentucky, our democracy, and our country. Let’s work together to rebuild Kentucky stronger than before.
Our democracy’s future depends on getting rid of Sen. McConnell. It depends on your vote.
Amy McGrath is a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. As a weapons systems officer, Amy became the first woman in the Marine Corps to fly a combat mission in an F/A-18.