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Gazette editorial: Trump’s WV bait and switch

Charleston Gazette editorial

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says West Virginia suffered a political hatchet-job. The state voted overwhelmingly for Republican Donald Trump, and now Trump wants to slash the U.S. safety net that saves the Mountain State from poverty. He wrote on May 26:

“So many of the people who voted for Donald Trump were the victims of an epic scam by a man who has built his life around scamming. In the case of West Virginians, this scam could end up pretty much destroying their state.”

Krugman pointed out that only Wyoming gave a bigger margin to Trump in the 2016 election. He continued:

“What did West Virginians think they were voting for? They are, after all, residents of a poor state that benefits immensely from federal programs: 29 percent of the population is on Medicaid, almost 19 percent on food stamps. The expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare is the main reason the percentage of West Virginians without health insurance has halved since 2013. Beyond that, more than 4 percent of the population, the highest share in the nation, receives Social Security disability payments.”

Krugman said West Virginia got “the mother of all sucker punches,” because Trump’s new budget and his repeal of the Affordable Care Act would cripple the state.

“What would happen to West Virginia if all these Trump policies went into effect? Basically, it would be apocalyptic: Hundreds of thousands would lose health insurance; medical debt and untreated conditions would surge; and there would be an explosion in extreme poverty, including a lot of outright hunger.”

Presumably, thousands of West Virginians voted for Trump because he promised to revive the coal industry and “put miners back to work.” But that promise is a pipe dream impossible to deliver, Krugman wrote.

West Virginia has a disproportionately older population, sensitive to cuts or changes in many government programs. Thanks, at least partly, to many years of work in demanding industries, state residents also have high rates of disability. Remaining workers and entrepreneurs continue to struggle every day to weather economic changes. Now, the state is cited as a sad victim of political betrayal.

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