Saturday, July 12, 2014

Weekend roundup: McConnell's use of 'jihad' questioned; Medicare debate continues

This roundup may be updated.
  • In his weekly column, Political Writer Joe Gerth of The Courier-Journal questions Sen. Mitch McConnell's occasional use of the word "jihad" to describe certain actions of the Obama administration: "The Arabic word for Holy War used in connection with a president who a sizable percentage of Americans incorrectly believe is Muslim, and about whom critics gleefully use his full name — Barack Hussein Obama — to underscore that incorrect impression." Gerth writes that the senator's recent use of the word in Benton, as reported by Suzanne Goldenberg of The Guardian, is "not the first time that McConnell has raised eyebrows when it comes to messaging about Obama and religion," noting that when asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" if he believed Obama is a Christian, McConnell said "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word." As for his latest use of "jihad," a McConnell campaign spokeswoman told Gerth, "It's offensive that anyone would suggest this comment is about anything more than this administration's war on coal." Gerth concludes, "We'll take her at her word."
  • McConnell told reporters after a speech in Louisville Friday that Medicare must be changed to save it, but avoided addressing specific solutions, such as raising the eligibility age for it, which he floated as an idea as he "and other congressional leaders wrangled over a budget deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, Sam Youngman reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. "What the voters of this state need to know is that no one currently receiving Medicare or likely to be receiving it in the near future would be impacted by any of the changes that we're talking about," he said.
  • The Grimes campaign kept pressing its case on Medicare, saying McConnell was "trying to hide his record by attempting to water down his support for the Ryan budget," a 2011 plan that would have gradually privatized Medicare and raised beneficiaries' out-of-pocket costs. McConnell cast a procedural vote to move the plan forward, but his campaign has said "there is no way to speculate" if he would have actually voted to pass it. The Grimes release notes several instances in which McConnell praised the approach of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

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