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Beshear, Guest of Obamas, Reacts to State of the Union

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane, were guests of President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama at Tuesday night's State of the Union Address.

Beshear has been heralded for his implementation of the state's health care exchange, known as kynect, a program that has given more than one hundred thousand Kentuckians access to affordable health care, and made possibly by the President's signature legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

President Obama acknowledged Beshear during the address.

“And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight,” the President said. “Kentucky’s not the most liberal part of the country. That’s not where I got my highest vote totals. But he is like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth’s families.”

Obama highlighted a quote from Beshear during the launch of kynect, referencing the governor's words that those who need health care access are "our friends and neighbors". "They are people who go to work every morning praying they don't get sick. No one deserves to live that way."

"Steve's right," the President said.

Beshear issued a statement shortly after the Address.

“Jane and I were honored to attend tonight's State of the Union address and to hear the President praise Kentucky as a national model for providing affordable, accessible health care to every one of our citizens.," Beshear said. "We're very proud to have the Commonwealth in the national spotlight.  Our work in providing access to health care will strengthen our families as well as our workforce."

"I was also pleased to hear the President's plans to help hardworking families through raising the minimum wage and supporting early childhood education.  Kentucky's minimum wage is tied to the federal standard, and a living wage is an important issue for all working Kentuckians. Early childhood education is critically important, not only to prepare students to succeed in school, but also to create a stronger workforce.”

Kentucky's Republican Senators were not as favorable to the President's speech. Senator Rand Paul issued his own video response to the President's address, arguing that the percentage of Americans' working is at its lowest level since Jimmy Carter was President. "Government spending doesn't work. It doesn't create jobs. Only the democracy of the marketplace can find those capable of creating jobs," Paul said.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader, aimed his fire at the health care reform law that gave access to affordable care to so many Kentuckians. 

“The President also tried to put a positive spin on the disaster that is Obamacare, but the American people are not fooled by a deeply flawed health care law that is driving up premiums and deductibles and causing people to lose coverage," McConnell said in a statement. "He even tried to sell Kentucky’s Obamacare bureaucracy as a success story, but he failed to mention the stories that I’m hearing from Kentuckians: restricted access to doctors and hospitals, lost jobs, lower wages, fewer choices, higher costs. Thanks to Obamacare, more than a quarter million Kentuckians received cancellation notices for plans they had and presumably wanted to keep and premiums have increased an average of 47 percent in Kentucky according to a recent survey, and in some cases more than 100 percent. And the cost to the taxpayer?  $253 million. That’s how much Washington has spent so far for these results in Kentucky."

Photo: State of the Union via President Obama's Facebook page