By Charles Young
April 8, 2018 - West Virginia’s 27th congressman representing the 1st District, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., recently stopped by the offices of The Exponent Telegram for a conversation with the Editorial Board.
The incumbent representative, who is running for reelection in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, discussed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the opioid crisis, the state of West Virginia’s coal industry and the possibility of Republican loses in November.
McKinley said he recently witnessed the positive impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act firsthand.
“I took my car into a shop the other day,” he said. “It has six employees, and he (the owner) said he was going to add two more. He was talking about the overall reducing of the corporate rate from 35 (percent) down to 21 percent and what it was going to do.”
Stories like that show the act is beginning to have its intended effect, McKinley said.
“I’m pretty encouraged with it,” he said. “We’re seeing some other people talking about investing back in West Virginia again, so just watch and see what happens with it.”
When discussing legislative efforts to combat the ongoing opioid crisis, McKinley said there are currently 25 pieces of legislation before the House Energy and Commerce Committee — on which he sits — dealing with opioids.
“They’ve selected the ones that they think will have the biggest bang, that can have an impact,” he said. “And what I’m proud about, two of them are mine.”
The root cause of the opioid crisis was pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers who allowed pills to be overproduced and improperly distributed, McKinley said.
“What we’ve been trying to do is figure out why did you look the other way when drugs were flowing into West Virginia,” he said. “In War, West Virginia — 808 people — over 200,000 opioids came in in a two-year period. Who was looking? What are we doing?”
The nonfiction book “American Pain,” written by West Virginia University professor John Temple, which tells the story of pill mills in Florida, is an excellent examination of the epidemic’s origins, McKinley said.
“He’s a guy who recognized the problem in 2012,” he said. “He did it by himself. He went to Florida and he did an analysis of this crisis over three years. He put the story together and then he wrote this book in 2015.”
The full ramifications of opioid addiction need to be further studied and investigated, McKinley said.
“There’s something more sinister to this,” he said. “And I don’t think we have the answer to this yet to what it is.”
Despite public perceptions to the contrary, McKinley said he believes President Donald Trump has made efforts to assist with the crisis.
“He has been supporting the idea of putting a lot more money into this,” he said. “It could be rehabilitation, it could be education.”
Although West Virginia’s oil and gas industries have taken the spotlight away from coal in recent years, the state’s coal industry is experiencing a resurgence, McKinley said.
“Coal is rebounding because some of the rules and regs have been pulled back off,” he said. “We now exported, last year, 68 percent higher exporting (of coal) than we’ve ever had. That’s a good turnaround. Maybe we’re not burning it here but overseas, they still have this veracious appetite for coal and we’re supplying that.”
When asked about the possibility of heavy Republican losses in the 2018 midterms, McKinley said there is historical precedent for losses, but anything can happen.
“History is there,” he said. “History says, if you look back to Franklin Roosevelt, that the party in power will lose 27 seats. Politico came out with an article maybe a month ago and said the losses they’re predicting are between 30 and 45. It’s possible.”
Even if he’s working with a Democratically-controlled legislative branch, McKinley said he believes President Trump will continue to govern in the same manner he has since his election.
“I don’t think the Senate is going to flip, but the House could,” he said. “We didn’t elect a politician, people want him (Trump) to be a politician, but he’s not going to be a politician. He’s going to continue to work to make things happen.”
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