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Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear addresses the crowd at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Aug. 1, 2015. The event is a storied tradition in Kentucky politics for pitting political foes against each other in front of hostile crowds in a contest of insults. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear blasted President Trump for 'eroding democracy'


In the Democratic rebuttal to President Trump's address to a joint session of Congress, former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear accused President Trump of making false promises and "eroding democracy" from a local diner Tuesday night.

"When the president attacks the loyalty and credibility of our intelligence agencies, the court system, the military, the free press, individual Americans, simply because he doesn't like what they say, he is eroding our democracy and that’s reckless. Real leaders don't spread derision and division," Beshear said.

Beshear also blasted Trump for aligning with Wall Street and rolling back regulations that would "safeguard against another economic meltdown." 

"You picked a cabinet of billionaires and Wall Street insiders who want to eviscerate the protections that most Americans count on and that help level the playing field," he added.

The former governor's remarks stood in stark contrast to the picture painted by President Trump in his address, who, while listing his administration's accomplishments, touted his efforts to "drain the swamp of government corruption."

The 72-year-old former lawmaker may have seemed like an unorthodox choice to deliver an opposition speech--after all, he is neither a rising star in the party nor on a short list of presidential contenders. But, Beshear, despite having roots in a deeply red state, embraced the Affordable Care Act after it became law in 2010. Under his leadership, Beshear launched one of the most successful implementations of the ACA thanks to medicaid expansion and the establishment of  state enrollment and exchange system called "Kynect," according to a report by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Beshear criticized Trump and his Republican allies for wanting "to rip affordable health insurance away from millions of Americans who need it most."

He continued, "Does the Affordable Care Act needs some repairs? Sure it does. But so far, every Republican idea to replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite your promises to the contrary."

According to a recent poll conducted by Gallup, Kentucky, along with Arkansas, saw the largest drop in uninsured rates. In 2013, nearly 20 percent of Kentucky residents were uninsured. That number dropped more than half in 2016 to roughly eight percent.

As a result, the Democratic party has consistently hailed Kentucky as the "golden standard" for Obamacare. When he attended President Obama's State of the Union address in 2014, the 44th president praised the governor as a "man possessed when it comes to covering the commonwealth's families."

In his joint address, however, President Trump used Kentucky as an example of a state that has felt the effects of a failing health insurance system. 

Trump said, "Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his state -- it is unsustainable and collapsing."

In terms of immigration reform, Beshear also blamed the president for making the country "less safe."

"President Trump has all but declared war on refugees and immigrants," he declared. "Look, the president can and should enforce our immigration laws, but we can protect America without abandoning our principles and our moral obligation to help those fleeing war and terror, without tearing families apart and without needlessly jeopardizing our military men and women fighting overseas."

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