Mitch McConnell: Senate tax bill helps small business and families while promoting energy independence

For many Americans, the legacy of the Obama economy is sluggish growth, stagnant paychecks, and missed opportunities. A lost generation of workers still struggle with the consequences of the Great Recession and find it nearly impossible to get ahead. One of the biggest obstacles to their success has been our nation’s complex and outdated tax code. For too long it has dragged down our economy and...

Two more Kentuckians, Steven Gardner and Mike Duncan, nominated to Trump Administration posts

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Two more Kentuckians have been nominated for posts in the administration of President Donald J. Trump.   
Steven Gardner, president and CEO of Lexington-based ECSI, LLC, has been named to be director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and Robert M. “Mike” Duncan has been named to the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service. Robert...

Rural Blog: Deep budget cuts for health care ads could hurt rural enrollment in Affordable Care Act

The Trump administration has announced deep cuts to programs that help people learn about and sign up for health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Department of Health and Human Services officials told reporters that “advertising will be cut to $10 million for the 2018 open enrollment season. That’s down from $100 million for the 2017 sign-up season. Funding...

Rural Blog: All counties in the U.S. now have at least one option for private health insurance for 2018

Dozens of counties, mostly in rural areas, were at risk of having no individual private insurance options in 2018 after companies like Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield pulled out of the markets. But a few insurance companies have filled gaps in coverage, and now there are no areas in the U.S. without coverage. Paulding County, Ohio, was the last “bare” county until CareSource committed...

Bill Straub: Fear of change culminated in events in Charlottesville — where is the accountability?

WASHINGTON – So, how did we get here? It’s now apparent that the United States of America, the most powerful nation the world has ever seen, has as its president a man who is incompetent and, more importantly, has no moral core. During the 1950s it was said that certain politicians were “soft on communism’’ because they were insufficiently zealous in their abhorrence of the Russian bear....

Commentary: Tweeting is no way to communicate policy; discussion needed about gender issues

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward President Trump’s tweet barring transgendered persons from serving in the military caught everyone off guard, including policy makers who are still trying to figure out exactly what it means. As we navigate the minefields of this highly charged issue there’s middle ground that nearly everyone can agree on: policy by tweet is no way to run a government....

Blocked again, Republicans divided about whether to keep trying to pass a health insurance bill

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News After his last-ditch attempt to pass a health-insurance bill failed early Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “It’s time to move on,” and scheduled other business. President Donald Trump, hungry for a legislative victory, did not agree. “Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead!...

Rand Paul: Association health plans could be a way to provide good, inexpensive insurance

Obamacare left 27 million people without health insurance and created a situation where insurance premiums have risen over 100 percent. Of the 27 million people that Obamacare left behind, about half of them don’t buy insurance because it is too expensive. So any debate to repeal and replace Obamacare must acknowledge the failures of Obamacare and try to insure more people at a lower price. There...

McConnell delays vote on GOP health bill until after break; measure may need support of Democrats

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed a vote on Republican senators’ health bill Tuesday, saying it needed redrafting to get the votes it needs to pass. Republicans have 52 of the 100 Senate seats, so McConnell can afford only two defections, and six GOP senators had rejected the bill when he pulled it. Three more did later. After Senate Republicans met with President Trump, McConnell...

Trump to outline infrastructure plan that could help rural areas, but details are still in the works

Following criticism that his proposed budget would hit rural areas hardest, President Trump will travel to Ohio and Kentucky on Wednesday to announce details of his infrastructure plan that he says will help rural areas. Rural voters have called his budget a ‘slap in the face’ due to the cuts in funding to Medicaid, rural loan programs, crop insurance for farmers and other services. The...

Rural Blog: Trump budget proposal could result in end of several long-term national service programs

Breaking from longstanding tradition, President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, if enacted, would eliminate many service programs started under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The programs include Corporation for National and Community Service, and with it, AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Volunteers in Service to America, one of Kennedy’s first national service programs, reports Erica...

Critical poverty-reducing programs for low-income Kentuckians at risk in proposed Trump budget

By Ashley Spalding Special to KyForward News reports suggest President Trump’s full budget proposal, slated for release next week, will include deep cuts to federal safety net programs that provide crucial supports for low-income Kentuckians and help boost our economy in hard times. These cuts to so-called mandatory programs (meaning spending is determined by how many people are eligible) are on...

Rural Blog: Biggest obstacle for Appalachian coal industry — more workers to produce less coal

One of the biggest challenges for President Trump to fulfill his promise to revive the coal industry is that surface coal mines in Appalachian are unable to produce the amount of coal as strip mines located mainly out West, Tim Meko and Bonnie Berkowitz report for The Washington Post. The average miner at a Wyoming strip mine can produce 28 tons of coal per hour, compared to about three tons per hour...

Rural Blog: Trump maintains silence on expiring benefits for retired miners; deadline is April 28

President Trump has been vocal on his promise to “put our miners back to work” but has remained mum on expiring benefits for retired coal miners, notes Noam Scheiber of The New York Times. One of those miners is David Van Sickle, who at 59 suffers from black-lung disease. Van Sickle, a Trump supporter who heeded doctor’s orders to retire two years ago after four decades of mining...

As union struggles to survive, retired miners in danger of losing their health care, retirement benefits

While President Trump has promised to put coal miners back to work—a promise experts don’t expect to happen—thousands of retired miners are in danger of losing health benefits and the future of the United Mine Workers of America hangs in the balance, Dylan Brown reports for Greenwire. On April 28, about 23,000 former UMWA miners or their widows will lose their health care and pensions, “and...

Commentary: Trump’s executive order is good news for Kentucky’s coal communities

By Sen. Mitch McConnell Special to KyForward At the beginning of this year, I sent a letter to then President-elect Trump urging him to work with Congress and use his executive authority to provide regulatory relief to Kentucky coal miners and their families. Last month, he stepped in to offer a much-needed reprieve from the so-called Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation, which tried to extend the...

Rural Blog: Coal industry seeing modest growth in jobs, but is it enough to qualify as a revival?

The coal industry, has been mechanizing, automating and losing jobs for decades, saw a modest gain recently, notes Justin Fox of Bloomberg News. The industry has gained 1,700 jobs since September, and added 100 jobs in March, growing to 50,300. While the numbers are positive, they aren’t big enough to signal a resurgence of coal, Fox writes. (Bloomberg chart: Seasonally adjusted employment in...

Daily Yonder: Many rural programs facing deep cuts under current federal budget proposal

USDA’s Rural Development, which helps provide water, power, broadband, housing, and small business loans in rural America, gets identified for deep cuts in the president’s budget proposal. The proposal, which is just the first salvo in the budget battle, also recommends eliminating agencies like the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority. President Trump’s budget...

Bill Straub: To no one’s surprise, under GOP health plan, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer

WASHINGTON – If, as Forrest Gump’s mom was fond of saying, “Stupid is as stupid does,’’ there is a whole lot of people doing stupid in the nation’s capital these days. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t hardly identify the stupid without a scorecard. Most of the horrors are, of course, emanating from the White House, where President Donald J. Trump often seems out to prove that...

Former Gov. Beshear, Republicans debate whether Obamacare is really succeeding in Kentucky

Kentucky’s roles in implementing and changing federal health-care law were on national display Tuesday night, as former Gov. Steve Beshear gave the televised Democratic response to President Trump’s first address to Congress and Kentucky Republicans criticized Beshear’s embrace of “Obamacare.” Trump set the table in his speech, using Kentucky as an example of why the Patient...