- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2015

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — President Obama railed against a proposal by congressional Republicans to repeal the estate tax Thursday, saying it would explode budget deficits and rob middle-class families of needed spending on job training.

“We’ve got to stay hungry,” Mr. Obama told employees at a technology company in Louisville. “We can’t prioritize tax cuts for the folks at the very top and sacrifice” job-training efforts for average workers.

The House passed a GOP proposal last month that would repeal the estate tax, a move that the White House says will cost the Treasury about $300 billion over 10 years.

“There’s going to be a big debate coming up in Congress around the budget,” Mr. Obama said, saying the GOP plan would be “deficit-busting.”

“That’s just not the way we’re going to build an economy that strengthens our middle class,” the president said. “Our economy works best when everybody has a stake and everybody’s getting ahead. And by the way, when that happens, businesses do well because they get more customers.”

Mr. Obama was several hours late for his visit, due to breaking developments on a framework nuclear accord with Iran. The president apologized for being late and said his national-security duties delayed him, but he didn’t refer specifically to the deal.

The president traveled to Louisville, in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to promote more than $2 billion in job-training programs in his fiscal 2016 budget and to contrast his proposals with Republicans’ spending plan.

The White House said under the GOP budget, 2 million fewer people would receive job training and employment services nationwide, including more than 28,000 Kentucky residents.

Mr. Obama’s visit to Kentucky also drew a sharp reaction from the coal industry, which has accused the president of waging a “war on coal” through his efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity said the president’s initiatives on climate change will have “devastating impacts” on states that generate more than half their electricity supply from coal-fired power generation.

“President Obama will keep his blinders firmly in place while visiting coal-reliant communities today, sticking to carefully-crafted talking points that are void of any mention of the tremendous costs his climate regulations will have on families and businesses,” said Laura Sheehan, a spokeswoman for ACCCE

“Utility rates in Kentucky and Utah are among the lowest in the country due to energy portfolios that utilize our nation’s most abundant and reliable fuel source: coal. Unfortunately, the president is moving forward with an anti-coal agenda that will leave communities in Kentucky and Utah, and across the nation, reeling from higher electricity rates and an increasingly intermittent power supply,” she said.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which calls on Kentucky to reduce carbon emissions by 18 percent by 2030, could lead to a 17-percent increase in electricity rates, the industry group said.

“Coal powers more jobs and more of the U.S. economy than wind and solar,” Ms. Sheehan said. “It’s time the president recognize that truth and work with American businesses and families to ensure we continue to utilize our nation’s vast coal resources to provide the dependable, affordable electricity Americans need.”

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