Author J.D. Vance has made the most of his memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” and it’s tale of his family’s struggle in Appalachian Kentucky and Ohio.

Most recently, Vance was the keynote speaker at the Lucas County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

Mr. Vance urged the Republican Party to promote policies that will restore upward mobility to the working class.

“Stories like mine are less and less common today. The prospects of a kid growing up at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder and rising to the top is less and less frequent,” Mr. Vance said. “We know the American dream is in crisis because of the data.”

He said keeping good jobs and creating rising wages is what got President Trump nominated and elected, and he has to live up to those promises.

“It’s going to take more than 100 days and the problems that exist in these communities are really complicated,” Mr. Vance said. “The appropriate standard is going to be two years or four years.”

In an interview, he cited a ABC News/?Washington Post poll released Sunday found that 96 percent of the people who voted for Mr. Trump in November would do it again.

“That’s pretty clear evidence that they’re pretty happy with him,” Mr. Vance said. But he said it’s way too early to know whether Mr. Trump will keep those voters happy.

Vance’s memoir makes for a good enough story as far as it goes. His telling of his own story is descriptivist by necessity and cannot be impugned in that regard.

Where he falls, both in his book and in this speech, is his prescription – namely, that Republicans in general, or President Trump in particular, have any interest in helping anybody at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.

Trump’s campaign promises to the frustrated, desperate, and poverty-stricken people of Appalachia were nothing more than empty platitudes.

His ideas about saving the coal mining industry, or bringing back coal jobs, have been directly contradicted recently by even the staunchest advocates for coal, including Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray.

President Trump promised a miraculous resurgence of coal jobs that will never come. Coal jobs are not coming back, so regional experts have been working hard on planning ways for a new economy in Appalachia.

But not only are President Trump’s promises hollow, his actions can be taken as a frontal assault upon poor people in Appalachia.

His proposed budget guts the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Economic Development Administration despite the fact that 400 of the 420 counties ARC operates in voted for Trump in November’s election.

This is an organization that  has invested $175.7 million in 662 projects around the region since October 2015. Trump wants to zero it out.

This would do the dirty to anybody interested in building a new economy for Appalachia. It completely undermines any effort to rebuild Appalachia.

But cuts to the ARC aren’t the only thing Trump has proposed that would do tremendous harm to the people of Appalachia, the rest of his proposed budget would do immense damage in a variety of other ways.

From the Washington Post:

The budget proposes housing “reforms” that add up to more than $6 billion in cuts while promising to continue assisting the nation’s 4.5 million low-income households. If enacted, the proposed budget would result in the most severe cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development since the early 1980s, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

It would also eliminate the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies.

The administration’s changes include eliminating funding for a $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, one of the longest continuously run HUD programs that’s been in existence since 1974. …

The administration would also eliminate the Energy Department’s weatherization assistance program, which dates back to 1976 when Gerald R. Ford was president. Since then, it has provided states with grants that have helped insulate the homes of about 7 million families, using low-cost techniques that have large payoffs, saving money for those families and curtailing U.S. energy consumption. It has also helped establish weatherization job training centers in states such as Utah and New York. …

Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, a $715 million program within HHS that funds more than 1,000 local anti-poverty organizations around the country. The organizations provide services ranging from job training to food assistance to more than 16 million people in 3,000 counties. The grants also help communities respond quickly to natural disasters, plant closures and other economic shifts. …

At the Agriculture department, the budget would carve $150 million from the $6.2 billion allocated to “serve all projected participants” in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. …

The White House proposed shrinking Job Corps, a program administered by the Labor Department that provides education and job training to more than 60,000 young people and disadvantaged youth. The proposal called for closing centers that do a “poor job” of preparing students for the workforce, but did not elaborate on how many of the 125 centers nationwide would be targeted. …

The Trump administration would also ax the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which aims to help low-income job seekers age 55 and up find work by pairing them with nonprofits and public agencies.

I could go on, seemingly forever, with the myriad ways President Trump and the Republican Congress aim to decimate poor people in America.

And I haven’t even mentioned yet what they want to do to health care.

J.D. Vance can urge as many Republicans as he wants to grow a conscience, but the facts are plain: President Trump and the Republican Congress have no plan to help America’s poor and no interest in doing so. To pretend otherwise is simply silly.

D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.

 
  • You nailed it, Dave! Vance should advance what works instead of what sounds good but has failed his Hillbilly Elegy communities for so many decades. Republicans like Kasich, whose good buddy Jai Chabria has teamed up with JD, still believe their unproven fiscal conservatism theories when history shows the opposite.

  • David

    Hey Dave, what Appalachian poor people do you really care about? I deal with poor Appalachians all the time, and they can’t stand big government programs that bleed tax payers dry and don’t do anything to help the local economy. They also are , for the most part, very conservative Christian, with those values for family and morals. So, who exactly are you really caring about?

  • Red Rover

    It’s a good thing they’re shifting all of that money to Defense, since all of the poor and homeless are going to have to join the military to avoid starvation.

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