Bevin says the way to help Eastern Kentucky is less government, not more

12/10/2013 11:27 AM

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin says that as someone who grew up in rural America, he wants to find ways to help the eastern region of the state. And to him, it is a matter of getting government out of the way.

Bevin, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in the May 20 primary, said he attended the Shaping Our Appalachian Region summit on Monday to better understand the economic forces at play in Eastern Kentucky. McConnell was in Washington with the U.S. Senate in session and Grimes was back in Frankfort preparing for Tuesday’s special election.

When it comes to coal, Bevin blasted regulatory actions of the federal government.

“These changes will absolutely have an effect on this country and this country’s economy,” Bevin said. “But for the government to come in and arbitrarily pick winners and losers through regulation, that’s where I have the problem. I don’t think it is the role of government to come in and mess with the free markets and free market economy.”

Bevin said he understands that no one wants pollution in the air.

“It’s great to scrub the air to remove two more microns per billion parts of something that may or may not have any measurable effect on people. But when those two extra microns come at the expense of 200 and 2,000 and 20,000 lives then I think that is a step too far,” Bevin said (at 1:30).

Many residents in the eastern part of the state rely on federal assistance, like food stamps, to get by. Eastern Kentucky has the highest rate of food stamp participation in Kentucky. And Bevin said the state is working to add even more people to those rolls, which he believes is the wrong way to go.

“You’ve got to start to ween people off that,” Bevin said (at 4:30). “It is a hard fact but everyone knows it to be true. There is no endless supply of money, there is a bottom to the bucket and we are essentially there in some respects.”

At the same time, Columbia University released a study showing those government safety net programs — including unemployment insurance and food stamps — has helped keep many Americans from sinking below the poverty line, as the Washington Post reported Monday.

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