Trump: Let’s Tackle Black Lung

Much of what President Donald Trump had to say during a fundraiser at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling pleased the nearly 1,000 people in the crowd immensely, because Trump was talking to them, not a national audience focused on the Mueller investigation or “the squad.” His audience here wanted to know about coal, steel and natural gas. Trump gave them much about which to be pleased.

But many in the crowd are coal miners, and I suspect they were especially interested — and gratified — to hear a few sentences that would have gone right over the heads of the Washington press corps.

Trump talked about black lung.

Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis, as the disease is known to medical professionals, is making a comeback. The debilitating, often deadly, malady got its name because it is caused by breathing in the dust in mines.

More needs to be done about it, and his administration plans to do just that, Trump said. He noted Australia is taking steps to curb black lung, and they may be emulated here.

Australia? Outside the mining industry, probably few Americans realize the Land Down Under is a major producer of coal. In fact, about as many Australians (52,600) as Americans work in mines.

One conclusion reached in Australia is that black lung never really went away though officials there, like here, assumed it had been virtually eradicated. That very mistake delayed a reaction to the resurgence — because many doctors misdiagnosed miners’ lung ailments, assuming they couldn’t be CWP because, well, that disease had been whipped.

It’s an error we humans make often. Exhibit A on that is, of course, the comeback of measles.

In Australia, what some there termed “the first case of CWP in 30 years” was diagnosed in 2015. That has led to action in the coal industry — and the country’s parliament — to address the problem.

What will happen here? Hard to say. Something effective, we hope and pray.

Give Trump credit for knowing about black lung and deciding something needs to be done about it. That isn’t a political imperative for him; he already could count on massive voter support in our states next year.

So, again, good for him.

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Speaking of Trump, coal country and politics, there’s been a lot of speculation regarding the 2020 campaign for governor in West Virginia. Former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, already is challenging incumbent Gov. Jim Justice for the Republican nomination.

But Justice has an ace up his sleeve that no other candidate can match: The president has his phone number.

During his stop in Wheeling, Trump was lavish in praise of Justice, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. All three were in attendance at the fundraiser.

But Trump talked at length about his personal friendship with “Big Jim Justice,” who, the president said, is one of the few people who can get away with phoning him in the White House at 11 p.m. or midnight.

Personality, not policy, guides an increasing number of voters. The fact our governor has a personal relationship with a president who is wildly popular in West Virginia will be a big advantage for Justice. And, regarding policy, it never hurts to have a pal in the White House, some Mountain State voters will reflect.

By the way, Trump assured those at the Wheeling event he’ll be back to West Virginia to help his chum during the 2020 campaign.

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As we reported, public officials from throughout West Virginia and Ohio attended Trump’s fundraiser here. Where, some asked, was our hometown congressman, U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-First District?

Working for retired miners and their families, that’s where. McKinley was testifying at a House hearing on his proposal to bail out a miners’ pension program (see editorial at left).

Give him a hand, folks.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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