There wasn’t a lot of surprise to us last week when we began a quick survey of pedestrians on Main Street here in Hazard, asking them for their reactions the day after President Obama was re-elected. Everyone we talked to in the downtown area had a negative outlook on the President’s second term. We were actually forced to turn to social media to find people with Perry County ties who supported President Obama’s re-election.
Locally, Mitt Romney carried nearly 80 percent of the vote. President Obama carried less than 20 percent. So, there was no shock that the majority of people we talked to locally would be against a new Obama term. But as with most elections, the will of Eastern Kentuckians very rarely has any effect on national politics.
In the end, then, we’re going to have the make the most of what we’ve been given.
In turn, we’re looking ahead to four more years of an Obama presidency. What does that mean for us here in Perry County? For one, we can certainly expect the same regulatory pattern from the federal government in terms of surface mining that has led to just a few new permits being approved. But in truth, if the coal market doesn’t pick up, new permits won’t mean as much as they did just four years ago.
We can also expect that the controversial health care legislation, widely known as Obamacare, will continue to systematically go into effect over the course of the President’s new term. For many people here in Eastern Kentucky who live below the poverty line, that will mean subsidies to help purchase insurance. It will also mean that people will not be turned down for coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Young men and women will be allowed to remain on their parent’s policy until the age of 26. Despite the mandate, there’s some pretty good stuff in this law.
An unfortunate side effect of the President’s re-election will be the continued partisan divide. President Obama and congressional leaders must now work together to steer the country away from the so-called fiscal cliff, which if allowed to take effect will end the Bush era tax cuts, and drastically cut federal spending across the board, meaning cuts to the military, education, and other areas of government. Economists largely agree that allowing these measures to take effect will send the nation into another economic recession.
So, while many may disagree with the President’s policies, one thing we should all agree on is that the nation has a major economic roadblock ahead, and it’s going to take working together and compromise to steer clear of it. We saw little evidence during President Obama’s first four years that leads us to believe that Congress or the President is willing to compromise, but for now we’ll take them for their word that they are.
We’ll also hold out hope and urge our leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and President Obama, to find common ground for the good of the country.
— The Hazard Herald