Wendell Ford in His Own Words

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

In 2006, Bill Goodman sat down with former Sen. Wendell Ford to record an interview for KET’s One to One. Ford had been retired from the U.S. Senate for just over seven years, yet he was still deeply interested in politics and the issues facing Kentucky and the nation. Here are a few quotes from their conversation.

On Political Campaigns
“There’s been a sea change since I first got into politics. It was more door to door, person to person, handshake to handshake when I first started… The need for money was not as evident as it is today.”

On Campaign Financing
“We go back to the First Amendment: you have the right to spend your own money and say whatever you want to say, and how can you limit that? It’s very difficult to do.”

On Political Partisanship
“We have to get away from [partisanship] because we’re not going very far and we’re not doing very well as a nation [as long] it’s my way or the highway. It just has to stop. Once the race is over, once the people say we want you to represent us, not just the Democrats or Republicans, but represent us as citizens of your districts, or your state, or this country. If we don’t get back to that, I think we have real problems.”

On Government Spending and Taxes
“The federal government is trying to cut back on everything, and if they can cut back on education, if they can cut back on all this, then that puts all the pressure on the states. So quit giving money back to the people that really don’t need it. If I’m making $10 – 15 million a year, and you give me a big tax cut, I really don’t need it…. Take that money and channel into the education of those young people that are probably going to work for that millionaire one of these days.”

On Expanded Gaming in Kentucky
“I hate to live on gambling, I really do, but we’re losing so much to [casinos] across the river…. So I think you’re going to have to give the choice to the people, and I think you’re going to have to [locate casinos at] more than racetracks… Racetracks can’t win unless they do that.”

On His Favorite Politicians
“[Former Kentucky Gov.] Bert Combs was one of the smartest fellows I’ve met in a long time. In the Senate, Sen. Robert Byrd from West Virginia is just as smart as he can be… He was the third senator for Kentucky when I was there, he really was helpful. Daniel Inouye from Hawaii: just a prince of a fellow and his word’s as good as gold…. Ted Stevens [Alaska Republican who served on the Senate Rules Committee with Ford] … We never had a cross word in all the 25 years I served there. He and I always worked things out… I’d walk across the street to find him right now.”

On His Future Aspirations
“I would like to live to be a great-grandfather. I want to live longer with my wife of 62 years… I want to go fishing a little bit, too.”

Watch the full conversation with Wendell Ford from 2006.

The Governor and the ACA

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Gov. Steve Beshear was fired up as he delivered his State of the Commonwealth address last night.

Before a joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly, Beshear displayed energy and confidence, despite rumors he was battling the bug that has hit many Kentuckians. Nonetheless he was at the top of his speech-making game.

For his last and perhaps the longest of his Commonwealth addresses, Beshear touted his record of accomplishments and spelled out what he would like to see lawmakers do in the 2015 legislative session. Those issues include education, healthcare, heroin, public private partnerships, and childcare to name just a few.

He also talked about the Affordable Care Act in this very public of forums – unlike some Democrats who chose to avoid the subject during the 2014 election cycle. Beshear said he seized the opportunity presented by federal reform to help Kentucky’s uninsured population:

There was immediate pushback from the Republican side of aisle. It’s an indication that Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid in Kentucky could become a major issue in this year’s gubernatorial campaign.

Republican candidate and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said:

“As part of his State of the Commonwealth, our current governor decided to focus a large portion of his speech on Obamacare in Kentucky. To be exact, he referred to Obamacare as a “transformative solution,” to which my Democrat opponent [Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway] applauded. Apparently they have not spoken to the Kentuckians that I have spoken to over the last year. Middle class people from all across Kentucky have lost their health care plan and have seen their health care premiums increase, sometimes by upward of 40 percent. Furthermore, Kentucky businesses have been forced to cut jobs because of the astronomical compliance costs of Obamacare.

“I also find it very troubling that the current governor dismissed the looming costs of the Medicaid expansion, which the next governor of Kentucky will inevitably have to address. The federal Medicaid reimbursement rate begins dropping in just a couple of years, costing Kentucky taxpayers $60 million in the next biennium. By 2022, the Medicaid expansion will put taxpayers on the hook for $250 million. Kentucky cannot afford Obamacare and Kentucky cannot afford a gubernatorial candidate who supports it.”

Of course there will be other reaction to the governor’s speech. I’m sure the hallways of the state Legislative Annex are buzzing with comments today.

And if you listen closely enough, you just might hear some gubernatorial election conversation, too.

McConnell Discusses His New Job as Senate Majority Leader

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

This is an important day for Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Today at noon, McConnell was sworn in as the Majority Leader of the United States Senate. The only other Kentuckian to hold the position was Alben Barkley, who served from 1937 until 1947. Barkley went on to become vice president under President Harry Truman.

A few days ago, I invited Sen. McConnell to talk with me about his new role in the 114th Congress. We recorded the conversation at Ashland, the Lexington home of Kentucky statesman Henry Clay. McConnell wrote his college thesis on the “Great Compromiser” and has long admired Clay’s historic tenure in Congress.

Tonight in a special edition of One to One, McConnell talks about Clay and Barkley, and about how he will manage the new Senate.

McConnell also discusses the Oval Office meeting he had with President Obama just days after the November elections, and the issues on which the two men might agree.

My conversation with Sen. McConnell airs tonight at 6:30 on KET and online at KET.org/live.

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