By CONRAD LUCAS
HUNTINGTON -- Most every even-numbered year, folks are told by the politicians that "this year's election is the most important one in American history."
Maybe sometimes that is hyperbole. But as years of debt, deficits and absurd government spending stack one upon another, that quote can be nothing but true in 2012.
The hole gets deeper. The troubles still harder to fix. The bad habits more difficult to break.
Those with the most at stake are those who will have to work and live and vote a decade or three from now. They are the ones who will bear the brunt of all these costs created by those who govern now, because those costs are in the future.
West Virginia's young people are too few. That's the result of years of government policy that scare investment and job across border and rivers.
Our missing population resides in places like Charlotte and Columbus, where the biggest industries are anything but government.
Instead of following the example of our successful bordering states, our Governor and our Federal government seem hell-bent on stopping the economic freedom that has built the rest of the South into an economic engine.
When President Barack Obama passed the largest tax increase in the history of the world as a part of his ObamaCare legislation, what happened in West Virginia? Now-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and virtually every elected Democrat voted for legislation to add the provisions of ObamaCare to state law.
Only California was able to pass a similar bill faster. Now, West Virginia taxpayers will get the surprise of billions in new Medicaid charges passed along by Federal fiat.
While other states sued to stop ObamaCare from taking away our doctors, West Virginia politicians asked for more ObamaCare, as fast as possible.
When Obama found ways to spend trillions of dollars in just a couple years and add to our national debt, our Democrat leaders either looked the other way or had their hands out for the money.
When President Obama campaigned on the tenants of Cap & Trade and promised to bankrupt anyone who tried to open a new coal-fired power plant, it was Tomblin and then-Gov. Joe Manchin who played along. They passed a 2009 law to ensure that by law, West Virginia power plants use less coal.
Again, that Tomblin-Manchin legislation says ... "by law, West Virginia power plants will use less coal."
That doesn't sound like a West Virginia value.
The result of having Tomblin and Manchin in bed with Obama's EPA is quite simply higher energy bills. It shouldn't go unnoticed that power prices are on the rise. That doesn't make sense when prices for natural gas sit near historic lows, and coal prices are less than half of the price of July 2008.
Energy costs less, but electricity costs more. That's the direct result of EPA policies that make consumers pay more and get less.
West Virginia's advantage, even with too much government, difficult terrain and awful courts has been proximity to inexpensive energy. Obama wants to stamp that out for good.
The Obama plan is choking out that which remains of the West Virginia economy. More debt for the youngest among us. Fewer jobs in our energy industries. Fewer jobs in manufacturing as our remaining plants and factories bail on West Virginia as the price of power skyrockets.
At 30 years old myself, I have faced temptations to leave West Virginia for more prosperous economies with stronger, pro-business leadership. However, I proudly stand with many in my generation committed to stay here and raise a family.
However, if our leaders keep following Obama's lead, that trickle of people to other states from my generation will again become a torrent. And we would have ourselves to thank for the policies that do it.
Lucas is a Huntington attorney who serves as chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party. He is a former chair of the West Virginia Federation of Young Republicans.
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