Coal Miners – From Bill’s Day to Hillary’s

September 14, 2016

Say what you will about Bill Clinton, but the former president is without question an inveterate newsmaker. The news he makes is not always welcome, of course, and there’s the rub.

On Friday, just as Hillary Clinton made halting attempts to bond with coal country, her husband blamed coal miners for deserting her and the Democratic Party. “The coal people don’t like any of us (Democrats) anymore,” he said. “They blame the president when the sun doesn’t come up in the morning now.”

The former president’s remarks are consistent with a new narrative that seeks an explanation for the alarming rupture between the working class and the political party that once inspired its allegiance. We’re told these blue collar workers, losing their livelihoods in record numbers, are ingrates. They don’t appreciate all that the Obama administration has done for them. Another explanation offered is that working Americans are prey to what Marx called “false consciousness,” meaning they are easily seduced by patriotic appeals.

There is a simpler explanation for why coal miners and their blue collar brethren are losing faith in their government. Their government has actively worked against them for the past eight years.

Thanks to regulations like the Mercury and Air Toxics rule, the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and the Stream Protection Rule (SPR), President Obama will leave office responsible for the loss of more mining jobs — 68,000 since just 2011 — than any administration in history. When coal miners lose their jobs, many other blue collar workers lose their jobs that coal supports, from power plants and railroads to equipment vendors and ports.

The beat goes on. Candidate Clinton promised to shut down still more power plants and double down on the CPP, threatening more mining jobs and communities. Using realistic estimates of the CPP’s impact on state power grids, preliminary studies suggest annual jobs losses could total 225,000, from the implementation date to 2030, just one reason the Supreme Court stayed the rule pending a Sept. 27 appellate review in the DC circuit.

While former President Clinton mocks “coal people” from the campaign trail, those 225,000 hardworking Americans who may soon be out of work thanks to policies like the CPP and SPR know exactly who to blame when the sun doesn’t come up for them.