The Republican National Convention in Tampa displayed a large “debt clock” that ticked away at a rate of $10 million a minute, keeping the nation’s dire financial straits front and center. Had there been a companion counter with a chit mark for each time the word “jobs” was mentioned from the main stage, it likely would have clicked on at a similar pace.
This week, at the Democratic National Convention the word “jobs” is sure to, once again, be a popular topic.
As Vice President Biden famously said, referencing the number one issue facing the middle class, “it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S.”
That “three-letter word” may be the only thing the two parties agree on—and how each would get there is totally different.
In Tampa, Romney said: “What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound. It doesn't take a special government commission to tell us what America needs. What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs. … I am running for president to help create a better future. A future where everyone who wants a job can find one. Where no senior fears for the security of their retirement. An America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon. And unlike the President, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs. It has 5 steps. First, by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.” (Italics added.)
The Romney plan starts with another word we are hearing, and will continue to hear, a lot of: “energy.”
While I was in Tampa, I did several dozen radio interviews discussing the Romney energy plan. As it was the Republican convention, the various hosts were positive and receptive to my comments. However, there was one “left of center” host who was interviewing folks via Skype. I sat down in front of the computer-mounted camera and began to answer his questions—which quickly turned into an attack. He threw the typical left-leaning lines at me about pollution, greenhouse gases, and health. I stopped him and asked: “How is it healthy for people to have higher energy prices? How is it healthy for people to be out of work?” I think I threw him off course, as he paused and asked: “Where’d that come from?” and quickly went to a break. My interview was over.
This week in Charlotte, the comments about energy will probably mirror the tone of the rude talk-show host. The stars of the Democratic Party who will parade across the stage will scoff at the Romney plan to create 12 million new jobs and will deride his emphasis on “oil and coal and gas and nuclear”—calling the Romeny plan “something better suited for the last century.” Instead, the party line will address “green” energy and the jobs that it creates—despite the thousands of jobs lost at failed green energy companies like Solyndra and the increased cost green energy adds to consumers’ utility bills.
In late July, I toured the coal mines of Eastern Kentucky where whole communities of hard-working miners are out of work due to increasing EPA Regulations. Since the start of 2012, 2000 direct jobs have disappeared in Eastern Kentucky. Arch Coal, one of the largest coal-mining companies in the world, has had to shut down three of its four mines in the region—other companies have had layoffs. About a half a dozen mines have been permanently closed. I’ve met with the miners and talked to local officials. They are hurting. You can be sure these registered Democrats will not be voting for Obama this year.
Despite the damage their policies are doing to physical health and material wealth, the Democrats will tout “clean” energy. They will be critical of coal-fueled power plants—focusing on the barely measureable amounts of mercury that may be emitted from a stack. They won’t talk about the recent smack down the EPA received from the Washington DC District Court that determined that the EPA had overreachedwith its waste water discharge regulations that required water to be cleaner than Evian before it could be released into nature. There will not be any concern for the lost jobs in Eastern Kentucky—or the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the Gulf of Mexico because Obama’s policies chased the oil and gas industry to foreign shores. There will be no mention of the extreme health impacts of unemployment.
Earlier this year, the Minority Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, under the leadership of Ranking Member, Senator John Barrasso, MD, released a report titled Red Tape Making Americans Sickthat brought together decades of research which points to increased “likelihood of hospital visits, illnesses and premature deaths in communities due to joblessness.” The report states: “an estimated 11.5 millionAmericans are projected to lose their jobs as a direct result of several proposed EPA rules.”
As I asked the talk-show host, “How is it healthy for people to have higher energy prices? How is it healthy for people to be out of work?”
The Subcommittee report cites Susan Dudley, Director of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center. “As Dudley points out, the Administration ignores the thousands of jobs that will be eliminated at the plants and factories that shut down due to higher energy and construction costs of installing that equipment. The end result is thousands of jobs being crushed to create a few green jobs, which leads to higher unemployment.”
At a Senate hearing, Dr. Harvey Brenner of Johns Hopkins University testified: “The unemployment rate is well established as a risk factor for elevated illness and mortality rates in epidemiological studies performed since the early 1980s. In addition to influences on mental disorders, suicide and alcohol abuse and alcoholism, unemployment is also an important risk factor in cardiovascular disease and overall decreases in life expectancy.”
The report points out that it is not just the out-of-work adult whose health is affected. A study from the National Center for Health Statisticsaddresses the impact of poverty on children’s health: “Children in poor families were four times as likely to be in fair or poor health as children in families that were not poor.”
Niger Innis, of the Congress on Racial Equality says, “For the middle class, energy represents 25% of their income. If you fall below the poverty line, it can go as high as 70% of your income. For every dollar spent on energy, that is a dollar not available for food, healthcare, shelter and other necessities. Access to affordable, reliable energy is a civil right.”
This week as you watch the news coverage of the Democratic National Convention, you’ll hear about jobs and energy, you’ll hear about poverty and health. The implications—and outright accusations—will be made that Republicans don’t care about the middle class. Yet, it is the Democrats’ policies—driven by an extreme environmentalist agenda—that are raising energy costs, killing jobs, increasing poverty, and hurting human health.
When you hear claims that additional Clean Air Act regulations will improve public health, think about the broader consequences. An America without abundant, available, and affordable energy is not an America that benefits the middle class or the poor. It hurts. It is unhealthy.