If the current Congress has been labeled the most obstructionist Congress in history, the upcoming session will almost certainly be labeled as the most selfish in history.
In a few short weeks, the GOP will take over the Senate, and they’ll see their numbers grow in the House of Representatives. This new crop of Republican lawmakers have made it clear that they do not care about the concerns of the American people. They don’t care about our environment. They don’t care about the economy. The only thing they care about is winning their next election – and they are desperate to win at any price.
And that price is the well-being of nearly every American citizen. I say “nearly every” American citizen because there will be a select few who will benefit tremendously from the new Congress. Unfortunately, those few will be the millionaire and billionaire classes – the people who don’t need any help.
And this isn’t just wild speculation. The new class of GOP lawmakers have already laid out their plans for the next two years, and it looks like this.
The first order of business will be to roll back every single environmental protection that has been put into place over the last decade. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who will become the Senate majority leader when the 2015 Congress convenes, announced last week that one of his main goals was to “rein in” the EPA. One of the main items that McConnell has problems with is the agency’s power plant emissions standards that would cut down on the amount of allowable air pollution from coal-fired power plants.
McConnell said that he feels a “deep responsibility” to stop these power plant rules.
McConnell ran his campaign on an anti-environment, pro-coal platform, playing up Kentucky’s fears that the EPA’s policies would kill jobs in the coal-dependent state. McConnell’s challenger, Democratic candidate Alison Grimes, could have easily challenged those talking points, but failed to do so.
Nevertheless, the facts are there, and the coal industry has had a devastating effect on Kentucky:
In a nutshell, the coal industry is a net negative for the state. When considering only the direct costs that the coal mining industry encounters, which includes research and development, training, and repairing the infrastructure that is destroyed or degraded during coal mining and moving, the industry is in the red.
But the true cost of coal for Kentucky is more than what the industry spends or puts back into the economy. The residents who aren’t involved in the industry in any way are paying a very large price.
Coal mining and coal dumping sites are riddled with both poverty and exceedingly higher than average rates of cancer. Both of these external costs are shifted onto the taxpayers and federal government, who will ultimately have to pay for assistance and healthcare for those affected by the industry’s activities.
And it gets even worse. Kentucky, as a direct result of the coal industry, is home to Congressional districts that rank last in the country in life expectancy, general well-being, and emotional and physical health.
The reason these statistics about Kentucky are so important is because this has become the new Republican Party blueprint for America. Their incessant attacks on the EPA’s power plant emissions rule could turn the rest of the country into the same pollution-filled quagmire that Kentucky has become.
The Hill has reported that Republicans are planning a quote “all out assault” on President Obama’s environmental agenda. This will include rolling back limits on ground level ozone pollution, allowing more toxic mercury to be pumped into the air from power plants, and allowing more mountaintop removal mining. They are also attacking rules on fracking and offshore drilling.
And those are just the attacks on environmental protections. The attack on science from these selfish lawmakers is even worse.
Republican Senator James Inhofe – the most prominent climate change denier in the U.S. Senate, is poised to take control of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which will prove to be a disaster for the slight progress that could be made to combat climate change, as well as on the health of every single American citizen.
The question is why? Why are these Republicans fighting so hard to destroy our environment? What’s in it for them? The answer is as simple as it is obvious – campaign money. The fossil fuel industry pumped $50 million dollars into the midterm elections. That’s only $20 million less than they spent in 2012 when they tried to buy the presidency for Mitt Romney. $50 million dollars to put climate change denying, greedy Republicans into office, and these self-serving politicians have already laid out the blueprint for how they will repay these heavy hitting campaign funders.
And that’s what this is all about. Mitch McConnell isn’t concerned about the coal industry allegedly losing jobs – he’s concerned about getting that coal industry money to fund his elections. He doesn’t believe that pollution is harmless – he’s being indirectly paid to say those things. The Republican Party sold its soul to big business long ago in the hopes that it would keep their aging, irrelevant party alive, and so far, it appears to be working.
But environmental protections aren’t the only things on the chopping block. We’re about to see the forward momentum on a host of other issues ground to a halt: common sense gun control measures will be off the table; minimum wage increase on a federal level will be gone; job and infrastructure bills will be history; net neutrality won’t exist; disastrous trade deals like the TPP will be fast tracked; the gap between the haves and the have nots will continue to grow as tax breaks for corporations and millionaires are extended, or even expanded, forcing those will fewer means to pay even more. And we’ll be talking about all of those things today.
These issues that would benefit the American public will disappear because we have a Republican party that is so selfish, so narrow-minded, and solely focused on self-preservation. There should be absolutely no doubt in your mind that the Republican Party does not care about you, and as such, you shouldn’t give a damn about their next re-election bid.