Trump is cutting programs that help the Appalachian voters who helped put him in office

The coal workers who gave Trump their support may soon be given reason to deeply regret doing so

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 17, 2017 3:00AM (EDT)

Donald Trump   (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez/Photo montage by Salon)
Donald Trump (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez/Photo montage by Salon)

President Donald Trump may owe his election to white working class voters like coal miners in Appalachia, but so far he hasn't been serving their best interest. Just look at how his budget proposes to save $340 million by cutting funds to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The ARC is particularly important, as it works to diversify the economies in areas hard-hit by the faltering coal industry. Its actions are expected to create or save more than 23,670 jobs and educate over 49,000 students of all ages due to the more than 650 projects that it has managed in 13 states between 2011 and 2015, according to the organization's statistics.

Of the 420 counties in which ARC operates, 400 of them voted for Trump over Clinton.

As Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, told Reuters, "It's true that the president won his election in rural country. I would really like to see him climb aboard the ARC vehicle as a way to help us help ourselves."

Federal ARC Co-Chair Earl Grohl echoed these sentiments, telling the wire service that "folks that live in Appalachia believe that the ARC belongs to them. It's really their organization."

As The Washington Post explained, "Through the Appalachian Regional Commission, the government pitches in on projects that these rural communities badly need but can’t quite afford — everything from fixing roads, to building computer labs, to training workers, to opening health clinics." Because its funds are dispersed in so many various ways, and the agency itself tends not to tout its own achievements, many people who benefit from this funding have no idea that their money is coming from the federal government.

The president appeared to shrug off the devasting impact his policies will have on his own base during a Fox News interview this week.

"Oh, I know," he admitted to Tucker Carlson:

Trump plans on increasing military spending by $54 billion, more than 150 times the amount that will be saved by cutting ARC and the Economic Development Administration.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Appalachia Donald Trump Trump Voters Trump Budget