Q&A with McConnell: Senator discusses vaccines, economy and Afghanistan
In a short interview covering several topics, Senator Mitch McConnell said on Monday that he hopes more people will be vaccinated because it is the key to ending the pandemic, he believes the federal tax changes proposed by President Joe Biden would be a “big blow” to the economy, and that the United States should have maintained its presence in Afghanistan.
After attending a conference at the Owensboro Convention Center, McConnell sat down for one-on-one talks. Here’s part of the conversation with Owensboro Times editor-in-chief Ryan Richardson:
RR: The FDA fully approved the Pfizer vaccine today. What do you think of this approval?
MM: This is good and I hope it encourages people to get vaccinated. As you know, but it bears repeating, we have developed three very effective vaccines in less than a year, a true modern medical miracle.
It never occurred to me that we would have such a hard time convincing people to take the pictures, but obviously we had some difficulties. I think a lot of it has to do with listening to bad advice, rumors, and theories on the internet. But what is a fact, not an opinion of fact, they work. Ninety percent of people hospitalized are not vaccinated. There are people who have been vaccinated who get the disease, but it’s mild and they don’t end up in the hospital. [as often].
So I think we just have to repeat that and hope we can get over that. Because unlike a year ago, we know what is working. We didn’t have a vaccine a year ago. … Maybe this decision taken today by the FDA will reassure more people. But this is the way out of the pandemic.
RR: What do you think of the requirement for vaccines in the workplace?
MM: Some employers require it. I don’t think it’s the government’s business, certainly not the federal government, [to make that recommendation]. … Governors basically deal with issues like these and hide mandates and that sort of thing. If I were governor, I would leave the issue of masks and vaccines to school boards and employers.
RR: What do you think is the biggest indicator of the strength of the economy and what does it look like right now?
MM: I think our biggest problem right now is inflation, which is produced by spending too much money on it. The $ 2 trillion bill that was passed a few months ago that I did not vote for, no Republican for the House or Senate voted, has flooded the country with money.
A related problem is the difficulty of getting people back to work. The governor of Kentucky, for example, decided to continue the [additional] $ 300 per week [unemployment payment]. The governor of Indiana decided not to do it, and the governor of Indiana had a much better record of getting people back to work.
RR: There are federal discussions going on raising taxes, including a significant increase in capital gains. Where are the discussions on this, and would any changes be retroactive to a certain date or come into effect next year? (To learn more about the American Families Plan and the American Jobs Plan, two proposals from the White House, Click here.)
MM: I do not know [about the effective date] corn [the American Families Plan] would be a big blow to the economy. [Biden’s administration wants] increase corporate taxes, personal income tax rates. They want a new tax on what’s called a grossed-up base – that is, the gain over your lifetime, say your family farm or house would suddenly be subject to capital gains tax ; this is not currently the case.
All of this would deal a devastating blow to the economy. Let me take you back to February 2020. We had the best economy in 50 years. Much of that was the 2017 tax bill that the Republican Congress and the Republican President enacted that lowered rates for businesses and individuals. It created a boom.
Not a single Republican will vote for [the proposed plan] in the House or the Senate. [Democrats] have a Senate of 50-50 and a majority of a few seats in the House. Hopefully there will be enough brave Democrats not to support him and that will not happen.
RR: Do you know when it would go to the vote?
MM: [Nancy] Pelosi is trying to have several procedural votes directly related to this today and tomorrow. It would not be a final result, but it would be a step in that direction.
RR: Are there any other big bills on the table right now?
MM: There is another bill (the American Jobs Plan) that I actually supported, an infrastructure bill that was passed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis and is being held hostage in the House. the bigger tax bill you and I just discussed. I hope the infrastructure bill can pass. It’s good for Kentucky, good for the country, and something that I thought we should be doing on a bipartisan basis.
RR: Afghanistan. Was it the right decision to withdraw all the troops, or do you think we should have stayed to some extent?
MM: I thought the current policy was working. We only had 2,500 troops there. We haven’t lost anyone in combat over the past year and a half, and it has cost about 1% of the defense budget. We kept a cover, preventing the barbarians of power and the terrorists from being able to attack us.
Each of the last two presidents wanted to leave. I then opposed that, to both Obama and Trump. In the end, they didn’t. I also opposed this with Biden. I think it was a huge mistake to leave. But if you were to leave, it was a catastrophic evacuation effort, a stain on America’s reputation. …
Honestly, I think at this point we need to stay there for as long as it takes to get all Americans out safely, and to make sure that every Afghan who has worked with us, as an interpreter. or friend, wish to leave, and give them a possibility to move somewhere in the world and start their life over.