The so-called War on Coal being waged by Washington leadership is costing jobs in eastern Kentucky and could compromise the Bluegrass state’s ability to attract new industry, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during his recent tour through Harrison County last Wednesday afternoon.
Sen. McConnell was in town last week as part of his statewide “hospital tour.” Since the US Supreme Court ruling last year that upheld mandatory health insurance requirements in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), McConnell has been visiting hospitals across Kentucky to voice his concerns about the Act and articulate other concerns he has with President Barak Obama’s administration.
Last Wednesday McConnell brought his speaking points to Bourbon, Harrison, and Nicholas counties. At around noon of that day, he addressed members of the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce in the main conference room of the county extension office. Afterwards, he delivered the same message to Harrison Memorial Hospital staff and administration.
The larger focus of his comments centered on the ACA’s intention to extend health care coverage to the estimated 40 million Americans that have no health insurance.
“Half of those are young and healthy people in their 20s who don’t want to buy health insurance. The other half are people who legitimately cannot afford health insurance and need help,” Sen. McConnell said.
The resulting legislation, he argued, takes a “meat cleaver to the problem when they should have used a scalpel.” He said that the legislation did not need to be so sweeping. Instead it should have targeted the needs of impoverished Americans rather than mandating health coverage for everyone - even the healthy non-poor who choose not to buy health insurance, said McConnell. The ACA will only cause insurance costs to spike, he said.
He further suggested that the ACA was hampering the nation’s economic recovery from the 2008 recession. But the Affordable Care Act is not the only thing in Washington that was having a damaging effect on Kentucky’s economy.
Sen. McConnell’s address to the Cynthiana Chamber differed from his talk at the hospital in that he spent the opening minutes of his talk on what he termed to be the federal “War on Coal.”
He warned people that the current administration was attacking the coal industry through restrictive regulation rather than through legislation. He asserted that there are intentional efforts in Washington to undermine the coal industry.
“New energy regulations reveal the current administration’s hostility toward digging and utilizing coal as an energy resource,” he said.
Kentucky has two significant advantages when it comes to economic development - it’s ideal location and the lowest utility rates in the nation.
He concluded his concerns by advocating reining in regulations in order to maintain Kentucky’s economic well-being going forward.