When I graduated from high school in 1977 the majority of western Kentucky's residents were Democrats. People who lived through the Great Depression spoke of Franklin Delano Roosevelt with reverence. They praised the New Deal and were pleased recount all the things that their local community possessed that it could never have afforded without federal assistance: schools, hospitals, rural water systems, etc. That Kentucky has passed into history. In the 2016 election Donald Trump and the Republican party ran on a promise to "Cut taxes; cut spending." More than six out of every ten Simpson County voters--5,077 out of 7,529 or 64.4 percent--voted for Trump and the Republican slate. The Republicans are now carrying through with their promise to "cut taxes; cut spending." The things being cut are not what the people in Simpson County who voted Republican expected, however.

Over the years Simpson County, like every rural county in the United States, has relied heavily upon federal assistance to build vital infrastructure, attract industry, and provide services that it could not afford to pay for with its own resources. One recent example: On Jan. 26, 2017 the Franklin-Simpson Industrial Authority received a $997,000 Community Development Block Grant to pay for building a railroad spur from the CSX Railroad's mainline to serve the new Fritz Winter North America LP automotive party plant that is being built in the Wilkey North Industrial Park in Franklin. When it begins operation the new factory will employ over 200 people.

In the future "Great America" that Donald Trump and the Republicans envision grants such as this one will not exist. Trump's budget would "eliminate funding for the Community Development Block Grant program." The reason given is that "The program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated a measurable impact on communities." Trump's budget also "proposes to eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, the Denali Commission, and the Northern Border Regional Commission, providing funding only for the orderly closure of the Agencies." The Trump budget also does away with all USDA water and wastewater loan and grant programs. The rationale for eliminating this funding is that it "restores control over community and economic development efforts to State and local governments and private entities." That really means, "Pay for it yourselves. If you can't afford it, then do without."

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Trump administration called the budget presented to Congress "A Taxpayer First" budget because in his words, "this is a budget that was written from the perspective of the people who actually pay for the government. We went line by line through what this government does and asked ourselves: 'Can we justify this to the folks who are actually paying for it?'" This is probably the most honest statement that has been made by the Trump administration. But it leaves one huge thing unsaid: When Mulvaney says "the folks who are actually paying for it" he does not mean the factory workers, small businessmen, farmers, etc. in rural Kentucky who voted for Trump and the straight Republican ticket. He is really referring to the tiny clique of super rich multi-billionaire robber barons who will get hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts.

Trump and the Republican party made their "Cut taxes; cut spending" agenda clear. That it would harm people in places like Simpson County was obvious to anyone willing to examine it and think its implications through. Voters in rural counties all over the United States stubbornly refused to look beyond the religiously rooted, emotionally charged issues of abortion and gay marriage that the billionaire robber barons who now own the Republican party use as a diversion to distract people's attention from their immoral Social Darwinist all-for-the-rich economic agenda. As a result those people voted against their own economic self interest, safety, and health. Trump and the Republican party did not stab the people who voted for them in the back. They convinced those people to cut their own throats.


Ricky Dale Calhoun

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