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The Q&A - Congressman Ed Whitfield talks Kentucky issues

Ed Whitfield at the Fancy Farm Picnic, 2010.
Ed Whitfield at the Fancy Farm Picnic, 2010.

By Chad Lampe/Seth Helton Web Copy

Murray, KY – This week Chad Lampe conducted the Q&A for us. Chad sat down with Congressman Ed Whitfield during his recent visit to the district to talk about appropriations, health care and the 2010 Kentucky U.S. Senate Race. Kentucky's future, economically and socially, is up in the air. Representative Ed Whitfield (R) of District 1 gave his perspective on the directions that Kentucky should take in these uncertain times.

First on Representative Whitfield's agenda is the presentation of an almost 1 million dollar grant for teaching American history to the West Kentucky Education Cooperative. "This $997,000 will be a great asset to provide them with additional tools to do a more effective job than what they are doing today," he said in regards to Kentucky falling behind nationally in education.

Last year, Whitfield requested around 495 million dollars in federal appropriations for the 1st District. Out of that, Whitfield managed to receive more than 407 million. However, this past March, Whitfield joined many of his fellow Republicans in the house to not seek any earmarks in response to the federal deficit and the unfairness of the earmark process. "Due to the extreme deficit we have, we (his fellow Republicans in the House) agreed not to ask for any earmarks this year," Whitfield said in defense of his stance. "It is a very small step, and more symbolic than anything else," he said, "but it is necessary that we bring to the attention of the American people the very serious problem of the debt in this country."

"We are going to see the same problems that are being faced nationwide," Whitfield said in light of Kentucky's current economic situation. The debt, he says, is his biggest concern, closely followed by the uncertainties surrounding the healthcare bill. The bill, which does not go entirely into effect until 2014, and the regulations for it have yet to be written. Whitfield says that small businesses in particular are worried if they must pay more than they are today for healthcare.

Another concern, he says, is the cap-and-trade bill, which makes coal energy more expensive. "In Kentucky, 92% of our energy comes from coal, with green energy only making up 2%," he adds. If the U.S. makes a policy where a permit must be purchased for coal, Whitfield believes it will but the U.S at a distinct disadvantage in the global marketplace and further confound the unemployment problem.

Tax reductions that expire at the end of the year will be another problem for small businesses and by extension the economy unless steps are taken to prevent it. "That type of uncertainty will make the recession we are in very hard to escape," he says, "and we must develop a very clear-cut policy so that businesses know what to expect from the government and what the costs will be."

On a less grim (and more certain) note, Whitfield sees the Senate race in Kentucky and Rand Paul's lead as reflecting the views of Kentucky. He says that Rand Paul best reflects the views of the people he hopes to represent, going further to say that he thinks the people of Kentucky will support him in the general election.

See a breakdown of Rep. Whitfield's Requests vs. Receipts on The Front Blog.