McConnell's says Keystone pipeline and trade deals are GOP's path to more jobs

01/26/2014 08:58 AM

In a pre-emptive strike on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Speech, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell on Sunday offered up approval of the Keystone pipeline and foreign trade agreements as measures Republicans could go along with to create jobs.

“He could approve the Keystone pipeline. He could work with us on trade agreements. He ought to stop things like the war on coal in my state, which has cost 5,000 jobs,” McConnell told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “We’re anxious to help him create jobs, but we’re not going to go over and endorse more spending, more debt, more taxes and more regulation.”

McConnell also said Republicans are looking to attach the Keystone pipeline approval — and potentially other issues — to the forthcoming measure to raise the debt ceiling next month.

Wallace asked McConnell how he could square his statements from last fall saying Republicans shouldn’t attach conditions to such measures. McConnell made that statement after the failure of an attempt to link the removal of spending for the Affordable Care Act to the federal spending bill.

McConnell said that’s not contradictory because raising the debt ceiling in the past has often come with measures aimed at reducing the debt.

“We ought to attach something significant for the country to his request to increase the debt ceiling,” McConnell said. “I think he’s the one being irresponsible by saying, ‘Oh just raise the debt ceiling.’”

McConnell also dismissed Obama’s push for increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

“The minimum wage is mostly an entry-level wage for young people,” McConnell said before quoting the unemployment rate for 18-30 year olds. “The last thing we want to do is have even fewer jobs for young people.”

On the 2014 elections, McConnell predicted that Republicans would nominate “electable” candidates in states like West Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, South Dakota, Alaska, Arkansas, Montana and Michigan and avoid the pitfalls of 2010 and 2012 when Republicans nominated ultra-conservative candidates who lost what could have been winnable races for the party.

Republicans need six pickups out of the 21 Democratic-controlled seats that are up for re-election this fall. But also for McConnell to become Senate majority leader, he must win re-election.

The latest web ad from McConnell’s GOP primary opponent Matt Bevin links McConnell to Obama through their low approval ratings in Kentucky.

“I don’t own the nomination of my party or the seat — the people of my state do,” McConnell said. “He’s making the argument that I’m some kind of Obama enabler. I’m sure the White House is snickering at that.”


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