West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a man who recently decided to become a Republican two years after becoming a Democrat, is calling for a massive government bailout of the coal industry totaling $4.5 billion per year.
But Jim Justice isn't calling for a bail out of the entire coal industry, just the industry in his own back yard which represents a minority of the industry. This is pure grift.
The money in Justice's proposal would be used exclusively to prop up the northern and central Appalachian coal production regions, which include parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and far Western Maryland. Together those regions account for less than 25 percent of total domestic coal production, according to the Energy Information Administration. The remaining 75 percent of the domestic coal industry would receive no bailout.
The way he sees it, magic asterisks will pay for it in the long term.
“In the scope of things, that would be a drop in the bucket to protect ourselves,” Mr. Justice said. “And looking at the other side, you would put thousands and thousands and thousands of people to work, and the net-net of that is that the $4.5 billion would get eroded tremendously, so that it may end up costing almost nothing.”
Free Market Jesus tells us industries that become obsolete deserve to die. Are you telling me Republicans don't actually believe in the Infallible Free Market? Jim Justice is asking the government to directly subsidize an obsolete industry.
There are undoubtedly people in the region who need help, but they're going to have to vote for it. If they want help, they're going to have to vote for politicians who are going to actually help them, not Republicans who are just going to screw them harder.
If Republicans had their way right now, Medicaid and other social assistance programs that prop up Appalachian communities would be devastated. If Republicans managed to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid and trillions more from other government programs, West Virginia would quickly become an unlivable hellscape.
Obamacare has already shown us there are limits to how much you can help people who don't want to be helped. States in which the law has been most effective are states that fully embraced it and expanded Medicaid.
Jim Justice himself is a coal industry baron valued at nearly $1.7 billion.