As part of a fiery speech against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s blocking of a standalone $2,000 stimulus check proposal, Sen. Bernie Sanders pleaded with his Kentucky colleague that his constituents in the Bluegrass State’s poorest counties could benefit from the checks.
But every single one of those counties voted overwhelmingly for McConnell in his most recent reelection bid.
Speaking from the Senate floor Wednesday, Sanders, a major proponent of the $2,000 direct cash payments, said “Let me just make it clear for the Majority Leader that 10 out of the poorest 25 counties in the United States of America are located in Kentucky.”
“So maybe my colleague, the majority leader, might want to get on the phone and start talking to working families in Kentucky and find out how they feel about the need for immediate help in terms of a $2,000 check for adults.”
Sanders also repeated the Kentucky statistic when discussing the $2,000 checks on Friday. Ultimately, the Senate adjourned without securing the checks, effectively putting the ball in the hands of the next Congress.
The Vermont Senator actually misused the statistic — 10 of the nation’s 25 “worst counties to live in” belong to Kentucky. That list, compiled by 24/7 Wall Street and published in USA Today in March 2019, took three factors into account to determine the “worst counties”: poverty, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree and average life expectancy at birth.
For Kentucky, the counties that crack the top 25 are: Floyd (No. 25), Jackson (No. 23), Martin (No. 20), Knox (No. 16), Harlan (No. 10), Bell (No. 9), Leslie (No. 8), Breathitt (No. 7), Clay (No. 6) and McCreary (No. 5).
In his reelection bid in November 2020 against retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, McConnell carried all but three of the commonwealth’s 120 counties en route to a nearly 20-point victory.
And he had particularly strong showings in each of the 10 “worst counties to live in,” which are concentrated in southeast Kentucky.
Here is a breakdown of what percentage of the vote McConnell won in each county, according to the Kentucky State Board of Elections’ results website:
- Floyd — 65.9%
- Jackson — 84.9%
- Martin — 85.3%
- Knox — 77.7%
- Harlan — 79.1%
- Bell — 73.9%
- Leslie — 84.8%
- Breathitt — 66.6%
- Clay — 82.5%
- McCreary — 81.1%
In explaining his opposition to the $2,000 stimulus checks, McConnell said from the Senate floor Wednesday that “the Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help.”
Earlier Saturday morning, the Kentucky Republican’s Louisville home was vandalized with spray paint, condemning him for blocking the additional stimulus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home was also vandalized Friday.
Follow Ben Tobin on Twitter @Ben__Tobin.
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