Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is urging Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell to "change his tune" on a proposal that would end tax breaks for U.S. companies that ship jobs overseas.
The statement made Wednesday continues a debate between Grimes and McConnell over Kentucky jobs, which has been the subject of their dueling ads this week.
In a 97-3 vote the Senate moved Wednesday to advance a Democratic-led measure called the Bring Jobs Home Act.
Under existing federal law, U.S. businesses can deduct the cost of moving personnel and other resources to foreign countries when filing their taxes.
The bill would end those subsidies for companies that move jobs overseas while providing a 20 percent tax credit for businesses that move their jobs and activities back to the U.S.
"I have emphasized during my campaign the urgent need to halt the flow of good jobs overseas and to start bringing them back to American shores," Grimes said in a released statement to WFPL. "It is critical to the fight to create good-paying jobs and strengthen the middle class."
Grimes told WFPL the Bring Jobs Home Act is a measure she'd support if elected, and chastised McConnell's criticisms.
"Mitch McConnell says it is not a serious bill. That is because he does not take job creation seriously," said Grimes. "This is a bill that would produce good-paying jobs for Kentuckians and other Americans. I urge Senator McConnell to change his tune and support through final passage this much-needed legislation that supports Kentucky jobs and will help grow the middle class."
McConnell has been an opponent of this legislation since it was first introduced four years ago. The GOP leader has successfully blocked the proposal since 2010, calling it a campaign pitch for Senate Democrats and a tax increase on business owners.
McConnell Senate office spokesman Robert Steurer said they're interested in having an honest debate, but that Democrats continue to oppose any GOP amendments to the legislation.
"Senator McConnell continues to urge the Senate Democrat Majority to allow Republicans to offer and vote on amendments to the legislation that will help create jobs in Kentucky, including a vote on an amendment he filed earlier today to protect coal jobs in Kentucky," he said.
"Senator McConnell is hopeful that the Democrat majority won’t continue to block Republican efforts. He believes that if we’re going to have a debate about creating jobs here at home, then we should be actually voting on amendments about creating jobs here at home."
The push from Grimes on the Kentucky campaign trail continues an economy-focused message that is trying to define McConnell as out of touch on jobs.
In a 30-second ad released Tuesday, Grimes joined an out-of-work Appalachian coal miner named David Stanley, who questioned McConnell’s commitment to job creation.
The ad also highlights a gaffe the senator made to an Eastern Kentucky newspaper earlier this year, when McConnell said it wasn’t his job to bring jobs to the state. McConnell claimed he was taken out of context, but the paper's editor told WFPL in April he stood by the story.
The McConnell campaign and its allies aren’t taking the blame for coal job losses, however. They have responded by blasting the Grimes ad as misleading.
As the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Sam Youngman reported, industry leaders such as Bill Bissett of the Kentucky Coal Association labeled the Grimes ad as "unfair and untrue."
Other political observers have said the Grimes ad is “questionable.”
In a new ad released Wednesday morning, McConnell’s team tried to fend off charges the senator has allowed jobs to go overseas by highlighting his efforts to save about 400 manufacturing jobs at Louisville plant.
A Grimes campaign spokesman said the ad is a sign McConnell is on the defensive when it comes to the jobs debate.
“Under McConnell, Kentucky has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs, while he has spent years supporting tax breaks that encourage companies to ship good Kentucky jobs overseas,” said Grimes spokesman Preston Maddock.
"The editor of a local paper maintains Mitch McConnell does not believe it is his job to bring jobs to the Commonwealth. The special interest money that it takes to run this misleading ad won't get what they paid for because Kentuckians know the truth.”