Noise & Notes

On air Saturdays at 10pm.

On Noise & Notes, WFPL's Phillip M. Bailey doesn't just discuss the issues, he dissects them. From city government to national politics, Phillip has covered it all. 

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Politics
6:14 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth Calls for 'Clean' Spending Bill Vote as GOP Support Grows

Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Congress

As President Obama meets with leaders in Washington, Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says there is enough support in the Republican-controlled House to pass a so-called "clean" spending bill to end the government shutdown.

But the remaining members of Kentucky's congressional delegation appear unwilling to accept such a plan even as more GOP members are supporting the idea.

"The solution to this crisis is simple: There is enough bipartisan support in the House right now to approve legislation to fund the government, send it to the president’s desk immediately and end this shutdown," Yarmuth told WFPL. "Every day they delay, House Republicans are hurting workers, small business owners, and millions of American families who depend on federal agencies, programs, and services."

House Democrats are pressuring Speaker John Boehner and GOP leaders to put forward a measure that doesn't attach any provisions to de-fund or delay President Obama's health care law.

A tally by The Washington Post shows there are now 21 GOP members who say they are either willing to and leaning towards voting for a "clean" continuing resolution.

That means a bill to fund the government would pass if the 200 Democrats went along.

In order for that vote to take place, however, Boehner would have to break the coveted "Hastert Rule" which forbids legislation that doesn't have the majority of the party in control's support.

A spokesman for Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie says the conservative lawmaker has already supported five "clean" bills that fund specific areas of the federal government.

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Politics
1:43 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Two Kentucky Lawmakers Highlight Government Shutdown's Effects on Kentucky Women

Mary Lou Marzian
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Kentucky state Reps. Joni Jenkins and Mary Lou Marzian are highlighting the effects of the federal government shutdown on women.

The two Democrats were in Washington, D.C., this week meeting with lawmakers and hope Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will keep those adverse impacts in mind as potential negotiations begin.

"Certainly the furloughing of employees—half of those or more are going to be single females who are heads of families—and I don't know how many of your listeners can go without paycheck for a day, a week or possibly longer," said Jenkins, whose district covers parts of western Jefferson County. "That money not coming into our communities is going to trickle down to all sorts of businesses."

Beyond federal workers there is growing concern about social services that could be impacted.

Almost 9 million new mothers and young children rely on programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children or WIC. But federal officials have warned funding for WIC could run out in the next week or so.

Observers expect the shutdown to last at least that long even as President Obama is inviting congressional leaders, including McConnell, to the White House Wednesday afternoon to possibly negotiate.

Marzian says the shutdown is a disaster for women on a number of fronts and low-income mothers in particular, adding the blame should be on Tea Party-backed Republicans in the House.

"It's going to really effect women being able to feed their families and pay their rent as these programs run out of money in the next weeks," she says. "But the Tea Party and these right-wing Republicans care nothing about women and children. They only care about themselves and pushing their agenda forward. However, they care about fetuses but once you’re here you’re on your own."

Last year, over 132,000 pregnant women and new mothers in Kentucky received nutrition assistance through WIC programs for their young children.

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Politics
2:59 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Blames 'Extreme' GOP Wing for Government Shutdown

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Calling it Washington, D.C., "silliness," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is blaming the government shutdown on a faction in the Republican Party, which he argues is holding the country hostage.

The mayor's comments come as federal lawmakers appear to be further entrenched in their positions.

Congress failed to reach a budget deal on Monday to finance the government and certain services.

Earlier Tuesday, the Senate rejected the latest House effort to hold a conference ,and no meetings between President Obama and congressional leaders have been set.

Fischer, a Democrat, joined a chorus of elected officials outside of Washington who are scolding lawmakers over the shutdown and its possible effects on state and local governments.

"If there’s a prolonged shutdown that’s going to affect the confidence of people and that’s not going to be good for business. We do not need to go back into another recession because of this silliness that’s going on in Washington, D.C. right now where people can’t come together on agreement," he says.

This shutdown is the first in nearly two decades, and its biggest impact thus far is the furloughing of around 800,000 federal employees across the country. As of 2011, approximately 9,000 federal employees were working in Louisville, but not all of them will be furloughed if they’re considered essential personnel.

A number of monuments and agencies have already announced their closures, such as the Library of Congress and National Zoo with more expected this week.

In the first day of the shutdown, many lawmakers spent the day trying to avoid taking the political blame.

Speaking on the Senate Tuesday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky once again criticized Democrats for killing the fourth measure out of the GOP-controlled House.

"They’ve now said they won’t even agree to sit down and work out our differences. They won’t even talk about it. They literally just voted against working out a compromise," he says.

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Politics
9:59 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Mitch McConnell: 'Americans Don't Want a Government Shutdown and They Don't Want Obamacare'

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Senate

Hours away from a government shutdown, the Democratic-controlled Senate once again rejected a House Republican spending plan that seeks to delay the president's health care law.

The party line 54-46 vote continues the back-and-forth between the two chambers with less than three hours before the midnight deadline.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also repeated his statement blaming Senate Democrats as a partial shutdown appeared inevitable.

From McConnell's office:

"Americans don’t want a government shutdown and they don’t want Obamacare. But Senate Democrats have once again blocked a House-passed bill to keep the government open while protecting Americans from the consequences of Obamacare.

The fact that the President is unilaterally granting waivers to some Americans but not others shows that even he doesn’t think Obamacare is ready for primetime. There is bipartisan support for providing the same treatment to individuals and families that the White House has already given employers.

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Politics
7:10 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Acknowledging GOP Will Be Blamed, Congressman Thomas Massie Describes Shutdown as 'Not a Big Deal'

Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Congress

Rep.Thomas Massie acknowledges Republicans will face the brunt of the blame if the government shuts down at midnight.

But the freshman lawmaker from Kentucky's Fourth District says constituents have told him it is "not a big deal" if certain federal agencies and functions close.

"I’m certain we'll get blamed for it," Massie told WFPL this afternoon. "But that’s also (Senate Democratic Leader) Harry Reid’s motive for running out the clock today. And they’re hoping there is a shutdown for their own political gain."

On Monday afternoon, the Senate once again rejected a House spending bill backed by Republicans, which sought to delay Obamacare by one year and repeal the medical device tax.

This was slightly different measure than an earlier GOP pitch to take out funding for the Affordable Care Act altogether.

Democrats have made it clear any efforts to undermine the health care law are a non-starter, however.

Polling figures show 46 percent of Americans would blame congressional Republicans if a shutdown takes place. The same survey finds 36 percent believe the Democrats and president would be responsible.

The political backlash isn't lost on a group of moderate House Republicans who are reportedly planning a revolt against GOP leadership and more conservative members.

Massie is part of a group in the House members who spoke with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas who strategized to oppose House Speaker John Boehner's plan. Asked about the impact on Kentucky, he told WFPL a partial shutdown will have limited real world effects.

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Politics
12:36 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Alison Lundergan Grimes Says Mitch McConnell is 'Missing in Action' on Shutdown Negotiations

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Calling the looming government shutdown a "reckless Republican" strategy, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is accusing incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of watching from the sidelines.

The budget impasse in Washington is expected to continue when the Democratic-controlled Senate rejects a House measure this afternoon.

If a deal isn't reached the federal government will close on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m.

At issue is implementation of President Obama's health care law, which Republican want to delay for one year. But that is considered a non-starter in the Senate and for the Obama administration.

In the meantime, the Grimes campaign is going on the offensive against McConnell by highlighting how a shutdown would impact Kentucky.

The news release points out a shutdown would close centers for 16,000 children who attend Head Start, delay payments for U.S. military service members and furlough 25,000 federal employees in the state.

Grimes says McConnell needs to be more involved in the negotiations while reminding supporters about the GOP leadership's split with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

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Politics
7:01 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Taking Myth-Buster Lead Ahead of Obamacare Implementation

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is scheduled to launch its open enrollment for individuals without health insurance beginning on Oct. 1.

And Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth is taking the lead on debunking what the Democratic lawmaker calls myths and "scare tactics" about its implementation.

In Kentucky, one in six people are uninsured and officials hope as the law unfolds that residents will take advantage of the state-approved insurance plans.

One of the chief changes under the new federal mandate is no one can be denied health care coverage for any reason, including pre-existing conditions.

But three years after it passed, Obamacare remains the source of continued bickering in Washington and the root of a possible government shutdown.

"A lot of this is partisan and anti-Obama sentiment because we know that people support the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act by substantial margins," says Yarmuth, who voted for the law in 2010.

A recent poll conducted by CNBC bears out what the congressman is saying. The survey found 46 percent of Americans oppose the law when it carries the president’s name. But just 37 percent said they oppose the law when it is called the Affordable Care Act.

In states like Kentucky—where Obama is immensely unpopular—that has resulted in considerable confusion about the law as state officials are encouraging people to sign-up.

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Politics
2:40 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Senator Mitch McConnell Praises House 'Compromise' Bill as Shutdown Appears Imminent

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Credit File photo

With less than 36-hours until a shutdown, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says a late night vote by the House has presented Democrats with a way to keep the federal government running.

The new proposal is being pitched by Republican leaders as a compromise, but it still links financing the government to the president's health care law.

Shortly after midnight, the GOP-controlled House passed a bill to keep funding the government through December 15.

The measure also delays the Affordable Care Act by one year and repeals a tax on medical devices in the law, which is considered a non-starter in the Democratic-controlled Senate and in the face of President Obama's veto pen.

McConnell says the House has put the ball in the Senate's court and the American people do not want a shutdown, but don't want Obamacare either.

From McConnell's office:

"While some in the Senate Democrat leadership may think employers should get preferential treatment over individuals and families, and that repealing Obamacare's medical device tax is 'stupid,' many other Democrats have made it clear they disagree. They should be allowed to vote to protect the thousands of good American jobs the medical device tax threatens to destroy and to give the same treatment to individuals and families that the White House has already given employers. The choice for Democrat leaders is clear: either shut down the government, or listen to the American people and act."

Democrats have poked holes in this latest move, however, calling it "smoke in mirrors" given that it once again puts funding for the president's health care law.

As observers have noted, with Obamacare's implementation set to roll out on Oct. 1 it is unlikely the president will gut his signature achievement.

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Politics
12:24 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

In New York Times Op-Ed, Governor Steve Beshear Says Kentucky Needs Obamacare

Democratic Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky
Credit Kentucky Governor's Office

In a robust defense of Obamacare, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says the state's health care needs come before the divisive partisan politics to defund the law in Washington.

The op-ed in The New York Times on Friday continues Beshear's arguments in favor of the law, which is set to be implemented beginning Oct. 1.

In Kentucky, nearly one in six are uninsured and the state ranks at the bottom of nearly every major health measure.

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Politics
8:45 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Louisville Metro Council Shrinks KFC Yum Center's Taxing District

KFC Yum Center
Credit File photo

In a unanimous vote, the Louisville Metro Council approved a measure reducing the size of the tax increment financing district surrounding the KFC Yum Center from six square miles to two square miles.

Council members hope this change will develop better revenue projections for the arena to help pay down its debt.

Since February, city officials have been discussing new ways to deal with financial woes at the downtown arena.

The TIF district is made up of property, occupational and sales tax revenue that goes towards the Louisville Arena Authority to help retire the $349 million in construction bonds.

But the taxing-district has fallen far below its expected projections putting a heavier burden on the city—and Louisville taxpayers—to cover more of the costs.

"Reducing the TIF area allows the TIF revenues to directly reflect the success of the arena and eliminates changes in business activities unrelated to the arena," says Council President Jim King, D-10, who sponsored the bill. "This approach is more realistic and gives the city a better monetary outcome in the future. It also taps into promised state tax revenues."

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