Thursday, August 7, 2014

'These people are against everything we stand for,' McConnell says of Clintons, Obama and EPA

By Cheyene Miller and Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

CORBIN, Ky. -- Starting a two-day, 10-county bus tour through the East Kentucky Coal Field, Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers linked Alison Lundergan Grimes to President Obama, his anti-coal policies and loss of miners' jobs in the region.

Mitch McConnell speaks in Corbin. (Photo by Cheyene Miller)
After recounting his history with former President Bill Clinton, who campaigned with Grimes in Hazard and Lexington the day before, and Hillary Clinton and Obama, McConnell said in Corbin, “These people are against everything we stand for. They're against our way of life and we're going to stop 'em.”

Noting in Middlesboro that Grimes had labeled herself "a Clinton Democrat" in Hazard, McConnell said, "There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between a Clinton Democrat and an Obama Democrat when it comes to coal. We will not be fooled!"

Speaking at Whayne Supply in Corbin, a major vendor to the coal industry, McConnell said Clinton "wildly applauded" Obama's proposed limits on carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants. He said “Congress would not pass what the administration is now doing by itself,” when Democrats controlled it. He was referring to a "cap and trade" plan that would have created a market for air-pollution credits; Obama's plan has caps, but no trading.

At Middlesboro, McConnell argued that Obama's plan to fight global warming "is going to be about as effective as dropping a pebble in the ocean" because the rest of the world is moving toward coal. In Corbin, he called for actions to allow coal to make resurgence in Kentucky, and for the EPA to “get off our backs.”

McConnell, in his 30th year as a senator, pressed voters to give him a sixth term. He and Rogers held out the prospect, considered more likely than not by most experts, that Republicans will take control of the Senate in the Nov. 4 elections and make McConnell the new Senate majority leader.

In Corbin, McConnell called Grimes “new face for the status quo” and said “We have an opportunity to begin to change our country.”

In Middlesboro, he said, “You’re unhappy with what they’ve done to our country, the way they’re turning us into a Western European country, the way they question our values, the way they question the way we live. These are people who do not understand us and do not respect us, and this is the year that we begin to take America back. . . . It begins by making me the leader of a new majority to take us in a different direction."

To applause in Middlesboro, Rogers said he and the Republican-controlled House had "cut the EPA’s budget three years in a row by upwards of 20 percent," only to be thwarted by the Democratic-controlled Senate. "I can’t wait to be able to send that bill back over there with a 20 percent or whetever cut to the EPA and its personnel, send it to Mitch McConnell as majority leader and he passes it through the Senate," Rogers said. "That’s gonna be sweet."

Rogers, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, blamed the loss of 8,000 coal-mining jobs in his Fifth District on Democratic and EPA policies, though industry experts have said the major factor in the job losses has been a flood of cheap natural gas from horizontal hydraulic fracturing, switching power plants from coal to gas.

"If we can just survive through the Obama presidency and live, we’ll be lucky," he said. "We need the strongest, most powerful voice we can find to rep Kentucky and our coal-mining industry and the coal miners, active and retired, to fight to Kentucky’s cause in Washington."

At Corbin, Rogers was asked whether Obama had delivered on what he said last year in a speech outlining his climate-change policies, that areas affected by the policies should get special help. “I’ve not seen any help,” said Rogers, who accused the president of “flooding our minds with spectacles.”

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