"This economy is poised to boom," said Republican Senate Leader Mitch Mcconnell in an exclusive interview with 44News Anchor Jessica Hartman.
The senator spoke with 44News while visiting Owensboro Health on Thursday to meet with local leaders moving the vaccine rollout forward in Western Kentucky.
Funds to Fuel the Commonwealth's Path to Normalcy
The COVID-19 relief bill Sen. McConnell negotiated in December 2020 devoted $8.75 billion towards vaccine distribution. In January alone, Kentucky received almost $87 million in federal funding to help the state administer vaccine shots.
Since then, the United States has gained access to three effective COVID-19 vaccines, but McConnell says the path through the pandemic hasn't come to an end.
"We're now, amazingly enough, in the position of just making sure as many people as possible actually take it and don't resist taking it - because the indications are that it's totally safe," said Sen. McConnell.
"The only way we get totally back to normal and get past the mask-wearing and social distancing is to get herd immunity, and that requires about 75% of the population," he continued.
Sen. McConnell on a 4th Direct Stimulus Payment for Americans, Unemployment Benefits
On Thursday, Sen. McConnell said that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan directed a large portion of the funds it provided towards things "unrelated to the current crisis," and that it was signed by President Biden with "no republican support in the House or the Senate" because it was "anchored in conditions a year ago rather than currently."
When it comes to another round of direct payments to Americans, Sen. McConnell says the time for that has passed.
"I can't imagine the economy is going to need a fourth round," said McConnell. "But they're putting together this so-called 'infrastructure package', which is gonna include more borrowed money and big tax increases on the most productive parts of our economy."
"I don't think we need any more borrowed money, which is why I voted against the last package," he said. "This economy is poised to boom. People have been cooped up for a year - it's going to take off like a rocket, and it doesn't need any assistance from borrowed money and higher taxes."
Sen. McConnell also said Thursday that he believes "unemployment extensions ought to be related to unemployment."
"We've basically covered the next five or six months, - let's see what the economy looks like," Sen. McConnell said. "We want to encourage people to go back to work, and I hear from employers all over Kentucky... People are reluctant to go back to work because honestly, many of them are doing better staying home. That's not a good idea."
"I think we need to let go of this pandemic and let the economy rise as it's poised to do," he said.
McConnell says the new American Jobs Plan will not find support among Senate Republicans
As Republican Leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell said he is ready to work with President Biden on reasonable proposals.
"If the President ever decides to be a moderate on anything, I think we can do some business," said Sen. McConnell. "He and I did business back when he was Vice President."
But when it comes to President Biden's new $2 trillion American Jobs Plan that focuses on infrastructure investments, "We have got to quit borrowing all this money," the Senator does not agree.
"We already have a debt the size of our economy for the first time since WWII, as a result of what we did last year. That can't become a common way to operate year in and year out," continued Sen. McConnell.
The senator said investment in the country's infrastructure from road and bridge repair to broadband expansion is needed. "The question is how much are you willing to pay for it?" explained Sen. McMcconnell.
"This so-called infrastructure package that is going to include more borrowed money and big tax increases on the most productive parts of our economy," continued Sen. McConnell. "That may well slow the surge coming just by simply opening up again."
According to the White House, the America Jobs Plan would set the Corporate Tax Rate at 28 percent, an increase of 7 percent. The Biden Administration also plans to negotiate a Global Minimum Tax for U.S. Multinational Corporations.
Together, those "corporate tax changes will raise over $2 trillion over the next 15 years and more than pay for the mostly one-time investments in the American Jobs Plan and then reduce deficits on a permanent basis." - White House Fact Sheet: American Jobs Plan.
"I think that package is going to have little to no support," said Sen. McConnell. When asked if there was a version he would support, he responded, "It is smaller and paid for. In other words, not borrowed money and not increased taxes. A size of an infrastructure bill that fits the amount of money that we raise every year from taxpayers."