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Mine all Mine
August 10, 2002
By Richard Prasad

This week, President Bush took time from his busy schedule of golf playing and clearing brush from his ranch in Crawford Texas, to visit those nine rescued miners. But of course wherever Bush goes, hypocrisy follows.

In the speech on August 4th he used the phrase "spirit of America" repeatedly to describe the rescue of the miners. Truly, the rescue of the 9 miners trapped in a mine for 77 hours was a miraculous display of what a community can do when they work together, but what did George W. Bush have to do with making the rescue come to fruition? Little if anything.

If this was the Clinton administration, the conservative critics would have been out in force as soon as he visited, saying that Clinton is only out to feed his own ego and have the fame of the miners reflect on him. Clinton's motives were always self-absorbed, according to conservatives. But not Bush, his motives are always pure and selfless.

The miners seemed happy to see Bush. "He's a cool guy. said Robert Pugh, one of the trapped miners according to an August 5th New York Times article. Another miner enjoyed "the small talk" of the President. So, as usual, the President projects himself as an everyman, looking out for the safety and protection of the blue collar working class.

But is that assessment of the President true? Not if you believe certain members of the Senate. According to Paul Wellstone and Ted Kennedy, in a July 26th New York Times article, the Bush administration has proposed to cut the budget of the Mine Safety and Health Administration by 6 percent. The MSHA is the federal agency charged with promoting the safety of mines, and preventing further accidents from occurring.

Republicans would probably say, 'What effect would a 6% cut in the Mine Safety and Health Administration have on miners?' Well, there's this fact. Mining deaths went up from 28 in 1998, to 42 last year. Would more money bring down those numbers of deaths? Maybe or maybe not, but less money will certainly make it harder for the federal government to protect coal miners from harm. As usual, Republicans talk the talk, but they refuse to walk the walk on safety when it means spending money.

Let's get to the real reason he was in Pennsylvania in the first place. Bush left the miners, and in the same day went on to raise 1 million dollars for Pennsylvania's Attorney General, who is running for Pennsylvania governor against Democrat Ed Rendell. By June 22nd, 2002, Bush had raised over 100 million dollars for Republican candidates according to the Washington Post. No wonder some have taken to calling Bush, the "fundraiser in chief." Didn't Republicans used to call Clinton's fundraising excessive? More hypocrisy from the Republicans. They don't care about blue collar workers, like coal miners, only wealthy fatcats who can add to their campaign war chests.

Bush, in no small measure, owes his presidency to coal miners. Let me explain. In the 2000 campaign, Bush won the coal miners vote in West Virginia by promising less environmental regulation of coal mines. Coal miners were seemingly scared of by Gore's 'green' reputation, and handed Bush West Virginia in 2000. This was the first time since 1928 that a Republican presidential candidate had won the state of West Virginia. What miners forgot is that Republicans generally like to deregulate everything, including mine safety. Democrats must emphasize safety if they hope to carry states like West Virginia on 2004.

This is how the Bush administration thanks the miners who provided him with his slim electoral 'victory.' By cutting the federal organization charged with protecting miners, and smiling while he does it. Blue collar workers need to realize Bush is not their friend, and send him back home to his ranch in Crawford for a permanent vacation in 2004.

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