Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth Letter Accuses McConnell of Misleading Public About Health Care Law

In a four-page letter, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., accuses Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of misleading the public about President Obama’s health care law and repeats a challenge for the two to hold a forum on the issue.

Last month, the GOP leader penned an editorial calling for the law’s repeal to mark its two-year anniversary. Among several criticisms, McConnell’s column said the Affordable Care Act will increase health care costs, cut half a trillion dollars from Medicare and will severely burden Kentucky’s Medicaid system when it takes full effect.

The letter addressed to McConnell counters each point in the editorial with information from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Yarmuth says McConnell is being irresponsible by perpetuating myths about the law and preventing small businesses from taking advantage of the law’s incentives. He asks McConnell meet with constituents in his district to help them make informed decisions.

“As a member of Congress, I believe we have an obligation to give our constituents the full facts about the law,” he says. “When distortions and misinformation are allowed to displace the facts, each individual and every business in our state is left at a disadvantage that could cost them time, money or much worse: their health.”

Read the full letter here.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth: Overturning Health Care Law Would Be Disaster for GOP

Appearing on MSNBC’s Martin Bashir, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says if the Supreme Court overturns President Obama’s health care overhaul it would be a disaster for the American people, but would benefit Democrats in the fall election.

For the past week, the high court has heard arguments for and against the Affordable Health Care Act with observers noting the justices grilled Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. for most of the hearings. Mr. Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment now goes to the nine justice, who will vote on the law Friday and draft legal opinions that will be unveiled in late June.

Yarmuth says if the challenge to the law is successful then citizens will quickly see the system return to the status quo and those who demanded reform will be disappointed.

“I think it would be a disaster politically for Republicans if the Supreme Court overturns this law,” he says.

Check it out:

The congressman also discussed his challenge to publicly debate Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about the health care law.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Federal Approval for Changes to Bridges Project Expected Soon

In a letter to U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and Todd Young, R-In., the Federal Highway Administration says it expects to approve a new environmental study for the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, which is required for the project to move forward.

The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was initiated after Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer revised the plan and introduced several measures to reduce the cost for building two new bridges across the Ohio River and reconfiguring Spaghetti Junction.

“It is very encouraging that federal approval for the Bridges Project is imminent,” Yarmuth said in a news release. “Throughout this process, I have asked for and received assurances from President Obama and U.S. Transportation Secretary (Ray) LaHood that the approval process will be expedited. With this, we now know the project is expected to be approved—bringing us another step closer to construction getting under way this year.”

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Federal Delegation Catches Basketball Fever

The upcoming battle in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four between the Louisville Cardinals and Kentucky Wildcats has made its way to Washington, with members of the federal delegation marking the contest.

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says Saturday’s game proves the commonwealth is the best college basketball state in the nation and that it will be one of the greatest moments in Kentucky’s sports history.

“From birth, it seems, Kentuckians are raised to root for one of two teams—you either wear red for the Louisville Cardinals, or blue for the Kentucky Wildcats,” he says. “If the excitement and frenzy and turbulence that’s been stirred up in Kentucky this week could be harnessed, we could solve our energy crisis. Basketball fans from Kentucky have been waiting their whole lives for this game.”

Local and state elected officials have also touted the game as the two teams prepare and the sports world focuses on the rivalry.

Earlier this week, the mayors of Louisville and Lexington made a friendly wager and Governor Steve Beshear appeared on ESPN’s Sportscenter to talk about the games economic impact on the state.

As an alumnus of both universities, McConnell avoided picking either the Cards or the Cats, but promises the victor will go on to win the national championship.

“I don’t know who will win Saturday’s game. But I do know this: whoever the winner is, they will go on to defeat either Kansas or Ohio State and bring a national championship back home to Kentucky where it belongs. So count me in with my fellow Kentuckians and college basketball fans everywhere as we tune in this Saturday to see history in the making. It’s going to be very exciting to watch,” he says.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth Initiates Letter Calling for Two-State Solution

In a letter to President Obama supported by U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., a group of congressmen are urging the White House to pursue a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The letter is being circulated among members of Congress and is backed by the liberal lobbying group J Street, which is holding its annual conference in Washington this week. The letter highlights U.S. support for Israel, adding the two countries have been international partners.

But it criticizes opposition to the two-state solution and the U.S. for not having a policy to resolve the conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians.

From Yarmuth’s office:

“In our view, support for a two-state resolution is inseparable from such support for Israel, its special relationship with the United States, and its very survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. As Israeli President Shimon Peres said a few weeks ago, “The principle of the two-state solution is a paramount Israeli interest.”

Our government, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike, has sought the emergence of a Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security as an essential element of the United States’ unbreakable commitment to our ally.

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Supreme Court Begins Hearing Case Challenging Healthcare Reform

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear three days of arguments challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare law Monday.

Justices will hear several different legal arguments against the Affordable Care Act, but their first question will be whether it is too soon for the high court to review the law.

The reform has been heralded by supporters as historic and criticized by opponents as an overreach of federal powers mainly for its individual mandate provision. The president’s overhaul requires all Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty through their taxes beginning in 2014.

Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., voted for the legislation two years ago. He says the court is unlikely to overturn the law given decisions on prior cases.

“I’m cautiously optimistic the court will uphold the law. It’s pretty clear that the four Democratic appointed members will support the law because of their prior decisions and a number of the Republican appointees have also in past decision given a very expansive interpretation of the commerce clause,” he says.

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Yarmuth Challenges McConnell to Public Debate Over Healthcare Law

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to publicly debate President Obama’s healthcare law.

The two Kentucky lawmakers have been on opposite sides of the Affordable Care Act for some time, but the two-year anniversary of the legislation being signed into law has put it back in the forefront of the national debate.

Yarmuth has been touting the benefits of the overhaul while McConnell has penned an editorial calling for its repeal leading up to the much anticipated U.S. Supreme Court case on the healthcare law that challenges its unconstitutionality—specifically the individual mandate.

In a telephone interview, Yarmuth told WFPL that McConnell has been misleading the public about several components of the law and should answer constituents in a public forum.

“I would relish the opportunity to debate Mitch publicly about the health care reform law. He continually misstates facts about it. Mitch has a wonderful way of stating things that are not even half the truths and I would just cherish the opportunity to talk with him in public about this,” he says.

McConnell’s office has yet to respond to our request for comment.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth Marks Health Care Reform Anniversary, Celebrates Benefits

While Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates used the two-year anniversary of President Obama’s landmark health care overhaul to mock and ridicule the law, Democratic Congress John Yarmuth celebrated the reform and touted its benefits.

Supporters are highlighting an analysis prepared by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which shows that the Affordable Care Act has allowed 2.5 million young adults to gain health insurance, saved 3.6 million seniors more than $2.1 billion on Medicare prescription drug costs and protected more than 100 million Americans against abuses of the insurance industry such as preexisting condition clauses.

Yarmuth says the vast majority of his constituents wanted to eliminate and lower the barriers to health care services and cost, adding the president’s overhaul  is succeeding in doing that.

“Two years ago, we made history by enacting a health care law that guarantees affordable health care to every citizen, reins in costs, broadens consumer choice, lifts the burden from small businesses, and ultimately lowers the national debt,” Yarmuth said in a news release. “I was proud to vote for the law then, and I am even prouder now that we are seeing the results: Hundreds of thousands of Louisvillians have new access to essential care, seniors are paying far less for prescriptions, young people who couldn’t get insurance before have it now, and thousands of children are no longer being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.”

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Yarmuth: Ryan Budget Plan is ‘Slap in the Face’ to Middle-Class

Calling the spending cuts dramatic and wrongheaded, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., ripped the federal budget proposal submitted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wi., earlier this week.

“The Path to Prosperity” is a fiscal plan that cuts $5 trillion more in spending than President Obama’s budget proposal by making deep cuts to domestic spending and entitlement programs. Supporters highlight the provisions also reform the U.S. tax code, protects defense spending, repeals Mr. Obama’s health care law and and blocks a proposed tax increase on wealthier Americans.

Democratic lawmakers, however, have pounced on the plan for going after social safety net programs such as Medicare, which would be cut by $205 billion under Ryan’s plan. And several observers have pointed out the plan could backfire on GOP candidates in the fall election whether they side for or against certain provisions.

Yarmuth says the GOP proposal has American priorities backwards and provides more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations while passing the cost to the middle-class and poor.

“It’s more than a political statement it is actually a very, very significant gift to the people who have done so well in the economy and a slap in the face for virtually everybody else,” he says.

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Wicker Calls Yarmuth’s Gas Rebate Act ‘Snake Oil Ploy’

In a message to supporters, Republican congressional candidate Brooks Wicker dismissed Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth’s bill to end federal subsidies for oil companies and return the savings to motorists, claiming it is a “snake oil ploy” for his re-election bid.

The three-term congressman unveiled the Gas Rebate Act of 2012 on Monday as a way to address the effect of rising gas prices on struggling families.

The legislation would take the $40 billion in savings from closing the loopholes to the oil and gas industry and funnel it to drivers with a direct one-time payment. The result would be approximately $160 per registered vehicle and over $300 for an average Louisville family.

Wicker says instead of direct rebates to motorists, Yarmuth should tell the Obama administration to support the Keystone Pipeline project to lower gas prices instead of pushing “vote buying” measures.

From the Wicker campaign:

As a matter of fact, if the (Obama) administration and its supporters would approve the pipeline and open up more leases to production, almost assuredly the price of oil would drop overnight. Despite what the media would have you believe, Mr. Yarmuth and his buddies in this administration can impact oil prices.

They just choose not to.