The Chatter: Paul and McConnell on debt negotiations; Ky.'s health exchange gets high marks

10/13/2013 08:10 PM

Both of Kentucky’s U.S. Senators sought to put pressure on Senate Democrats over the weekend to give a little in the negotiations over reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke with Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid on Sunday but didn’t make headway, the New York Times reported Sunday afternoon.

McConnell’s office issued a statement pointing to a “bipartisan plan” offered by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. The plan would temporarily reopen the government and briefly raise the debt ceiling.

“It does all this while maintaining our commitments to reduce spending, cutting an Obamacare tax and improving anti-fraud provisions in the law,” McConnell’s statement said. “It’s time for Democrat leaders to take ‘yes’ for an answer.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul told Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union” that President Obama was being irresponsible by stoking fears that the nation will default.

“The leader of the country should be soothing the markets and saying we will always pay the interest on our debt. And we do have plenty of revenue. We bring in $250 billion a month and we have $20 billion in interest payment,” Paul said. “There’s absolutely no reason ever to default. And a good leader will be saying we will never default.”

He also said he “was against shutting down, and it is a failure of conversation to be in a shutdown.” But he said he still believes it’s a failure on Obama’s part not to negotiate.

Compared to most states, Kentucky’s health exchange site is doing well

After nearly two weeks, Kentucky has about 10,000 people who have signed up for health insurance through Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange, which is ahead of most states whose exchanges sites have been plagued with problems.

For instance, the Baltimore Sun reported that Maryland’s site has been widely panned for its dead ends and error messages. And the federal site has been troublesome for users as well.

The Sun article highlighted Kentucky as a rare bright spot for state health exchanges — one of the tenets of the Affordable Care Act. Here’s why:

They used few graphics and limited text on the website so it wouldn’t get bogged down and consumers wouldn’t be overwhelmed, said Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman for Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, where the exchange is housed. They thought anonymous browsing would be popular, and as it turns out, that approach avoided the bottleneck plaguing other states.Most importantly, Bond said, the state used its own technical people, who also oversee Medicaid and other social service systems, to create the overriding architecture of their exchange. They also “stayed in the room” with contractors — some of the same ones who are running the troubled federal site — to keep close tabs on the operation.

McConnell endorsed by Fraternal Order of Police

Also this weekend, the Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police endorsed McConnell in his re-election bid.

The police organization voted Saturday during the group’s state convention in Bowling Green. McConnell, who was in Washington over the weekend, addressed the organization in a taped message, according to the McConnell campaign.

FOP President and Clark County Sheriff Burl Purdue said in a statement that McConnell has supported law enforcement throughout his career and the group hasn’t been persuaded by public arguments by McConnell’s opponents and groups that support them.

“When you’re at the top of your game, everyone takes shots at you but the threats we face are too serious to not have him working for us in Washington,” Purdue’s statement said.


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