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Thomas Gallatin / September 30, 2016

Obama’s Coal Power Play

His killing of the coal industry can be leveraged into a win for socialism.

Caught between the increase of competition from natural gas on one side and Barack Obama’s stifling regulations and Hillary Clinton admitting that her energy plan would effectively put the coal industry out of business on the other, it would appear that the American coal industry is not long for this world. As a result of the coal industry’s steady demise, concern over funding coal workers’ pensions has become a very real issue. For every current coal worker, there are now 10 retirees whose pension plans are in jeopardy.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Benefits are underfunded by $5.6 billion, or about $600,000 per worker, and the pension plan is projected to go broke by 2025. A retiree who worked 30 years would then receive a maximum of $12,870 per year from the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) versus $24,250.” Now the unions representing the coal workers want taxpayers to underwrite these pensions. Essentially, the unions are seeking a government bailout for an industry the government had a major hand in destroying. And Hillary Clinton would gladly oblige.

Leftists like Hillary Clinton who see the government as “savior” eagerly leap to supply solutions to problems which all too often resulted from their own prior “solutions.” Creating more not less dependence on the government is the goal of socialists. Democrats have lost support in what was once staunchly Democrat coal country, and this is an opportunity to win back support. Similar to the auto industry bailouts, a coal pension bailout could go a long way in bringing disillusioned Democrats back into the fold. Of course, legislation of this type would “add significant new costs, and eliminate savings sought by the administration,” a top official at the Department of Interior warned in 2010. But if killing coal can be leveraged into a Democrat power play to save coal workers’ pensions, then it’s a win, even as coal workers and taxpayers lose.

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