Far-Left Agenda Would Harm Vulnerable Communities Just As Republican Agenda Is Helping Them Rebuild
‘Today, we see the lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years. Way more job openings than job seekers. An all-American recovery that isn’t limited to just a select few places and industries. My home state of Kentucky has hit and sustained our lowest unemployment rate ever recorded. Two thirds of Americans now say they feel optimistic about where their finances will be a year from now.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the benefits Americans continue to see from the Republican pro-opportunity, pro-growth agenda:
“Earlier this week, I spoke about the economic pain that many Americans felt under the last administration’s left-wing policies -- and all the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress have done to turn the page. Today, we see the lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years. Way more job openings than job seekers. An all-American recovery that isn’t limited to just a select few places and industries.
“My home state of Kentucky has hit and sustained our lowest unemployment rate ever recorded. Two thirds of Americans now say they feel optimistic about where their finances will be a year from now. But we know the effects of bad policy are hard to erase. So my colleagues and I are continuing to fight for the places that are still struggling to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately my home state of Kentucky offers a particular a case study. Because nothing shows the difference between the last administration and Republicans’ new approach more clearly than the case of affordable energy and the coal industry.
“For more than a century, coal has been a reliable and low-cost energy source that’s helped fuel America. Coalfields in both Eastern and Western Kentucky have provided good jobs and served as critical drivers of our economy. Back in 2009, the industry directly employed more than 23,000 Kentuckians. It provided more than 90% of our electricity. It brought billions of dollars in revenue into our state. So we were especially vulnerable when a Democratic administration came to Washington that didn’t even try to hide its hostility toward Kentucky coal.
“Speaking in San Francisco, then-Senator Obama pledged to bankrupt any new coal-fired plants and declared that under his plan, quote, ‘electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.’ His Democratic Leader of the Senate said, quote, ‘coal makes us sick.’ So clearly the elite disdain for fossil fuels that dominates in places like New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco was going to become the law of the land. Sure enough, the Obama Administration declared a War on Coal that hurt Kentucky badly. Plants closed. More than 10,000 miners were let go. And then these mass layoffs strained local social services. Entire communities went into tailspins.
“Unsurprisingly, many of these places experiencing economic distress subsequently became Ground Zero in the opioid and substance abuse crisis as well. I, and Republicans generally, did all we could to fight. But when we passed bills repealing the worst regulations, President Obama vetoed them. When I urged his EPA administrator to hear from Kentucky families, she turned me down. The policies had been dreamt up in places like New York City and San Francisco, for places like New York City and San Francisco. Places like Kentucky? We were just collateral damage.
“So it’s no surprise that all kinds of Americans elected President Trump and Republican majorities in 2016. And we hit the ground running. One of the first bills we sent the president was a bill I introduced to repeal the Stream Buffer Rule, a burdensome part of a series of regulations designed to make coal prohibitively expensive to mine or use. We’ve halted some of the worst regulations like the Waters of the United States, eliminated the so-called ‘Clean Power Plan,’ and replaced them with policies to support American energy dominance.
“But for former miners and for the industry, the damage can’t be unwound overnight. This very month, we’ve seen two more major coal producers in Kentucky move toward bankruptcy. Clearly, even now, all is not well. That’s why my colleagues and I are focused on lending a helping hand. When health care benefits for thousands of retired coal miners and their families were at risk, I led the effort to secure a permanent extension and protect coal communities in states like Kentucky.
“Congressman Hal Rogers and I established the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Economic Development Pilot Program, which aims to revive old mine sites into economic drivers again. That program includes everything from helping dislocated miners develop the skills they need to transition to new career. To delivering resources to strengthen our water infrastructure. To improving the infrastructure and tourist attractions to draw new visitors and money into Appalachia.
“With these programs and many others, we’re working to revitalize communities and repair the damage. But, many of our Democratic colleagues are itching to take us right back to the bad old days. The most prominent voices in the Democratic Party are openly calling to re-start a big-government assault on fossil fuels and on so many Americans’ livelihoods. We all remember, several months back, when many Democrats embraced an unabashedly socialist proposal called the Green New Deal that would have made the Obama-era War on Coal look like child’s play.
“Among all its other craziness, it sought to end all production of American oil, coal, and natural gas within a decade. How absurd. Well, we voted on it here in the Senate. And lest we think this was just some extreme view that only the fringe subscribes to, only 4 of 47 Democrats could bring themselves to oppose it. 43 of 47 Democrats couldn’t vote against this thing. Fortunately, Republicans voted it down.
“But, last week, not to be deterred, a number of Democrats rolled out yet another far-left environmentalist manifesto. This new resolution calls for – here we go again – a ‘managed phase-out of the use of oil, gas, and coal to keep fossil fuels in the ground.’ Of course, this means a whole lot more intrusive big government. The bill calls for a, quote, ’massive-scale federal mobilization of resources.’ Just imagine what that will entail. And get this -- this new manifesto dictates that our nation model ourselves after Europe, Canada, and liberal enclaves like ‘New York and Los Angeles.’ You just can’t make this stuff up.
“So the contrast is clear. Republicans are working overtime to rebuild the conditions for middle-class prosperity and we’re working overtime to help those who were hit hard in the Obama years. But Democrats are working to resurrect the same bad ideas that caused much of that damage and implement them yet again – but on steroids. Well, the good news is this. As long as this Republican Senate has anything to say about it, none of these radical and job-killing manifestos have even a chance of becoming law.”
Related Issues: Economy, Jobs, Tax Reform, Coal, Taxes