Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mitch McConnell's attack ads start. Afraid of his own record, he bashes someone elses.

Below is an article in the CJ about Mitch McConnell's recent attack ads blaming Bruce Lunsford for high gas prices.

So let's get this straight, my diminutive friend. Bruce Lunsford's fiscally responsible desire 30 years ago to ensure that Kentucky had the funds to take care of its infrastructure is responsible for higher gas prices.

REALLY Mitch? REALLY? Have you had a chance to look at your own record and that of your party? What exactly have you done since 9/11/01 to help drive gas prices down? Oh, that's right. You moved forward with a false war fought under false pretenses so that large corporations would be able to receive corporate welfare from the Government. You helped lay the foundation for a world in which the dollar's value keeps falling, making gasoline even MORE expensive. You continue to back a President with failed policies on almost every front.

In case you haven't realized, and I doubt you have since I'm sure the last time you gassed up a car was 30 or more years ago, gas prices have risen tremendously in the past 8 years after remaining steady for the previous 20. Bruce Lunsford wasn't in a position to do much about it during that time. YOU WERE.

Mitch, why don't you run on your own record instead of attacking your opponent for something he did 30 years ago? My guess is because you can't. Mitch McConnell is bad for Kentucky, bad for the country, and needs to be voted out of office in 2008.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has begun airing a television ad that blames soaring gas prices on his Democratic opponent, businessman Bruce Lunsford.

The ad, which began running yesterday on network television stations statewide, notes that Lunsford backed legislation indexing Kentucky's gas tax to the cost of the fuel while he was a member of Gov. John Y. Brown Jr.'s administration in 1980.

Lunsford responded with a press release that blames McConnell for the high price of gasoline. It said McConnell opposed legislation that Lunsford argues would lower prices.

In the McConnell ad, a narrator says: "Gas prices are soaring and Kentucky's gas tax just went up again. Why? Nearly 30 years ago, Bruce Lunsford lobbied for automatic gas tax increases."

Lunsford, as Brown's chief legislative liaison, did push for a change in the gas tax formula. At the time the tax was 9 cents a gallon; since then the price of gas has more than tripled, with the tax rising to 21.1 cents per gallon.

The most recent gas tax increase was last month, when the tax went up 1.5 cents per gallon -- meaning that drivers would pay an extra 30 cents or so on an $80 tank of gas.

The increases are intended to insure that Kentucky maintains a steadily growing stream of revenue to build roads and keep up with inflation. Kentucky's gas-tax revenue goes into a fund used to build and repair highways.

As crude oil prices rise, so do the costs of building roads, since asphalt is a petroleum-based product.

In the ad, McConnell claims that Lunsford wants "to pump taxpayers for even more." The campaign says that refers to Lunsford's opposition to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore.

McConnell contends that such drilling will lower the price of crude oil, and his campaign criticizes Lunsford's support of a windfall profits tax on oil companies.

It's unclear exactly how much impact drilling offshore and in the arctic refuge would have. Recent reports by the U.S. Department of Energy suggest it would be minimal, at best, and consumers wouldn't see any savings for about 10 years.

Lunsford's press release said "McConnell's ridiculous negative attack is nothing more than a desperate political smokescreen."

He added that McConnell is simply trying to divert attention from his and the Bush administration's record on oil.

He charged that President Bush and McConnell have sat idly by while the price of gas has gone up $2.50 a gallon during the past six years. He noted that McConnell's gas price reduction act doesn't include a "holiday" from the 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax, which Lunsford supports.

McConnell's campaign noted that while the legislation doesn't include a tax holiday, the senator has supported the idea.

The campaign declined to say if he believes the state was right to raise the state gas tax in 1980 and, if not, what road projects he would have eliminated during the past 28 years. It noted that he is not a state policy maker and said he has a track record of opposing gas tax increases at the federal level.

"I have read their (the Lunsford campaign's) response three times now, and I have not seen a single word that repudiates the fact that Mr. Lunsford thinks gas should be taxed at increasingly higher levels as the price of fuel rises. That's remarkable," McConnell campaign manager Justin Brasell said in a statement.

McConnell's advertising buy appears to be significant -- he is spending about $28,000 on both WHAS and WAVE in Louisville for 182 spots on the two stations between now and the end of next week.

"It's a sizable buy," said Mark Riddle, a Democratic political consultant who is not involved in the Senate race. "Especially when you're talking about the middle of July."

Reporter Joseph Gerth can be reached at (502) 582-4702.