Mitch McConnell’s newest TV ad touts his support for the deal that averted the so-called fiscal cliff 16 months ago, a compromise his Republican colleague from Kentucky, Sen. Rand Paul, and most House Republicans opposed.
McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader seeking re-election this year, “saved 99 percent of Kentuckians from an income tax increase,” the ad’s narrator says of McConnell’s backing of the January 2013 law that avoided some scheduled tax increases and spending cuts.
The measure, which President Barack Obama signed into law, permanently extended the George W. Bush-era tax cuts on individuals’ income up to $400,000 and for married couples’ income of less than $450,000. It also ended a two-percentage-point payroll tax cut.
The McConnell ad doesn’t use the phrase “fiscal cliff.” The text on the screen refers to avoiding “Obama’s tax increases” and references the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012,” the formal name of the measure.
The Senate passed the fiscal-cliff deal early on Jan. 1, 2013, with McConnell among the 89-senator majority. Paul, a potential candidate for president in 2016, was among eight senators voting no, a group that included Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. The House cleared the accord later that day, mostly with Democratic votes, as 151 of 236 Republicans opposed it.
“The combination of raising taxes and increasing spending is not in Americans’ best interest, and I could not, in good faith, support this piece of legislation,” Paul said in a statement after the Senate vote.
Despite their differences on that deal and some other policy issues, Paul is backing McConnell for re-election, beginning in a May 20 primary against businessman Matt Bevin.
Bevin, backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund, is seeking to align himself with Paul and Cruz as he attacks McConnell as insufficiently conservative.
The likely Democratic nominee is Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.