Dana Milbank has an excellent opinion piece in today’s WaPo about WV, coal and trump’s utter failure to “save coal”.
Last August, President Trump went to Charleston, W.Va., for a “mission accomplished” moment.
He had already boasted to his Fox News fan base that “I’ve turned West Virginia around, because [of] what I’ve done environmentally with coal.” In Charleston, he said that “we are putting our great coal miners back to work” by ending what he had dubbed the Obama administration’s “war on coal” and that, under his leadership, West Virginia had “on a per capita basis one of the most successful GDP states in our union.”
“The coal industry is back,” Trump declared.
Alas, it was an illusion — or, as Trump might put it, a hoax.
Last week, the Commerce Department reported that during the third quarter of 2018 — the period during which Trump took his Charleston victory lap — West Virginia’s gross domestic product grew exactly 0.0 percent. As in, zilch. As in, the worst in the nation.
Quarterly figures are volatile, but clearly, two years into the Trump presidency, both West Virginia and the coal industry remain in bad shape. Coal-plant closures nationwide reached a near-record in 2018, production was off sharply, and U.S. coal consumption hit a 40-year low. Jobs in coal have barely budged, from 51,000 at the end of 2016 to 52,700 today.
West Virginia’s poverty rate, meanwhile, rose to 19.1 percent, among the nation’s highest, in 2017, the most recent year of reported data. The state is being propped up by temporary jobs (often held by out-of-state workers) to construct pipelines for natural gas. And the national economy, though humming along, isn’t near the level of growth Trump promised his debt-expanding tax cuts would deliver.
And yet the by gawders will vote for him again because while they and their neighbors wallow in poverty he’s telling them he’s saved them. Why, you ask – thinking they have some semblance of rational thought? They do not. After all who they gonna believe – SFB or their own eyes? SFB every time. (And yes, because I live in WV I see the bone deep stupid buy-in constantly). NEVER make the mistake of believing WV voters (or KY or OH for that matter) engage in rational thought when it comes to trump, coal and jobs. When belief clashes with experience, belief wins out every time.