Witt: Is Barr really running on his record?

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr stated at the beginning of his campaign this year he would run on his record. And then, almost immediately after the conclusion of the primary, his campaign began to run attack ads against Amy McGrath, questioning her Kentucky affiliation and using the age-old ploy of “guilt by association” by trying to tie her to Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Chelsea Handler and “a long list of controversial celebrities.”

Of course, Barr never mentioned his associations with Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers and coal barons. More on that anon.

His ads also criticized McGrath’s absence from Kentucky. She grew up in northern Kentucky and only left the state after being appointed to the Naval Academy following high school, and after graduation there, entered her 18-year career as a Marine aviator.

So her absence from Kentucky occurred while she was serving her country and being sent wherever she was ordered to go.

Then he began running an ad which — horror of horrors — noted McGrath had been in Massachusetts. Imagine, one of our candidates going to the cradle of American independence.

In that same ad, McGrath is heard noting the Coal Mining Museum is powered by solar. Well, all she did was tell the truth. It is.

And the folks in Harlan County probably find that fact as ironic as she does, but it points out the people most likely to know realize coal is not going to make a comeback despite Barr’s proclamations. (See below for the reason Barr continues to tout coal.)

Barr has further claimed the Paris Climate Accord is “devastating Kentucky coal jobs,” when he knows full well other energy sources and the difficulty of mining Kentucky coal in a cost-effective way is what is driving coal jobs out of contention in the energy market.

In one of his “door hanger” placards, he noted Nancy Pelosi’s plan to install a government-run single-payer health care system — which McGrath has specifically stated she does not support — “would cost taxpayers $32 trillion.”

What he doesn’t tell the reader is a conservative-run tax study found this $32 trillion price tag (over 10 years) would be less than what is projected under the current health care system.

Another “attack” ad suggested McGrath was against the “middle class tax cut.” No, she is against the Republican tax plan for which Barr enthusiastically voted which sends the majority of the tax largesse to corporations and millionaires.

For instance, in the first three months of 2018, the four largest banks in this country increased their profits by $2.5 billion because of the corporate tax rate cut from 35 percent to 21 percent.

And as for this tax plan benefiting the middle class, consider the following: Many of the individual tax changes are set to sunset in 2025, while the corporate tax cuts are permanent. This year, 0.4 percent of tax filers, households making more than $1 million, will get 16.5 percent of the benefits.

A Morgan Stanley survey found 43 percent of the tax savings will go to stock buybacks and dividends, while only 13 percent will go to pay raises, bonuses and employee benefits. So much for this being a “middle class tax cut.”

Barr has also compared his service in the Congress to McGrath’s military service. The appropriateness of that comparison may have to be left to the reader, but there are probably a good many military veterans who would not agree his less-than-six-years in Congress compares favorably with an 18-year military career with the Marines.

Since Barr doesn’t want to run on his record — despite his assurance he would — a glimpse at part of that record is warranted.

He voted in favor of the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 which permits the indefinite detention of families seeking entry to the United States, and provides $25 billion for a border wall 70 percent of the American public believes is unnecessary.

He voted for the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 — whose title belies its intent — which makes eligibility harder for SNAP programs which provide food supplement to families, including women and children. This act also prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide usage — an inclusion at the behest of manufacturers of such products —and it increases farm ownership loan limits from $700,000 to $1.75 million — a boon to large landowners, with no advantage at all to the small farmers who are being priced out of the markets.

He voted for the Republican health care repeal bill which, had it passed, would have resulted in some 40,000 Kentuckians losing their health care coverage.

While Barr decries money coming into McGrath’s campaign “from out of the district,” during his tenure in Congress, he has accumulated $1.4 million from Wall Street, $32,000 from payday lenders and $62,000 from Washington Republican leadership — 44 percent of his contributions come from large individual donors and 44 percent from PAC contributions.

Among his contributors are listed Alliance Resource Partners, Goldentree Asset Management, Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs, American Bankers Association, Bank of America, Charles Schwab, US Bancorp and the Securities Industry and Financial Market Association (SIFMA).

From the websites of these various organizations, one can find their purposes and claims.

From SIFMA: “…represents the broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers.” In other words, some of the players who created the 2008 recession and who promoted the Republican plan which weakened Dodd-Frank regulations that were designed to prevent another meltdown … and a plan for which Barr voted.

Of course, his rationale for voting for the plan was it would help small town banks. But wasn’t it possible to help the small town banks without removing regulations from the very big banks which will go back to their previous practices and drive the country to recession again?

Blackstone Group: “one of the world’s leading investment groups.”

Goldentree Asset Management: “specializes in distressed debt and leveraged loans among other things.”

Alliance Resource Partners: “largest coal producer in the Illinois basin.” (See previous comment about Barr’s promotions for coal.)

Several of the banks listed among his contributors were those directly involved in the 2008 recession, banks “too big to fail.”

The plain truth is Barr has not only forgotten who he is in Washington to serve, he has aligned himself with shadowy monied interests who lavishly fund him and his campaigns and he has initiated this season’s attack ads while being deliberately deceitful about his own record which, remember, he wanted to run on.

Perhaps the only thing that can be truthfully said about the Barr campaign is that it set a terribly low bar.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.