Coal Country Gets Burned By Trump’s Budget Cuts And Miners Are Livid: ‘We’ve Been Conned’
You might remember, during the campaign Donald Trump billed himself as the “last shot” for coal country, boasting that he alone could “save regions like Appalachia that had long suffered from poverty and dwindling coal jobs.” And voters in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky believed him — choosing Trump over Hillary Clinton by wide, wide margins. Well, they just learned they’ve been conned.
The sad truth became evident when they realized that President Trump’s first budget proposal would slash and burn several key programs aimed at promoting economic development in coal regions — most notably, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration. In recent years, these programs have focused on aiding communities that have been left behind as mining jobs vanished.
Now, even some of Trump’s staunchest allies are livid at the proposed cuts. “I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the President’s skinny budget are draconian, careless and counterproductive,” said Rep. Hal Rogers, a senior House Republican from a key coal-mining district in southeastern Kentucky. “I feel like we’ve been conned!”
It’s possible Trump didn’t realize —or didn’t care— that he was backstabbing his biggest supporters and figured there’s no need for all those other government programs.
But one thing is clear: Trump can’t bring back all the mining jobs that have disappeared over the past 30 years — it’s just not feasible. That’s a promise he won’t keep. And now he’s cutting the region’s safety net, too.
Sorry, Trump voters. You’re in for a hell of a ride.
Consider this for a moment:
Your ‘so called’ president wants to kill two big programs aimed at helping coal country
First, Trump wants to eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an independent agency set up in 1965 “to address the persistent poverty and growing economic despair of the Appalachian Region.”
Since October 2015, the ARC has invested $175.7 million in 662 projects around the region, with a disproportionate focus on “distressed” counties and coal towns.
Last year alone, according to a government review published on the agency’s website, the ARC created or saved at least 23,000 jobs and provided 25,500 households with infrastructure services such as water or broadband. The program is broadly popular with Democrats and Republicans alike in Appalachia.
Second, Trump is proposing to zero out the Economic Development Administration (EDA), which sits within the Commerce Department and provides about $250 million per year in grants to support economic growth in certain regions. During the Obama years, the EDA began devoting a sizable portion of that money to coal communities around the country that were suffering economically as cheap natural gas and new air pollution rules shriveled the coal industry, reported Vox.
It’s unclear if the White House conferred with coal-state politicians before proposing these cuts.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of the few Democrats who tends to side with Trump on various issues, told constituents at a town hall on Thursday that he was not happy with these cuts, either.
Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader who hails from Kentucky, has stayed silent so far.