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In a screenshot from a Mitt Romney ad, Romney stands in front of coal miners whose boss had made attendance at Romney's speech mandatory and unpaid.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are banking on the decline of coal to win them swing-state votes. Their whole "Obama's war on coal" argument is contradicted by the facts—the market is what's hurting the coal industry—but this is not a campaign dictated by the fact-checkers or the facts themselves. In addition to the real reason for coal's current decline, there's another body of facts Romney and Ryan would prefer the miners and miners' families they're trying to appeal to would not think about: what Romney and Ryan themselves would do to mine safety. That's the question Ken Ward, Jr., of the Charleston Gazette's Coal Tattoo blog raises, and the answer should give miners serious pause.
For example, two years ago, Rep. Ryan was among the Republicans who helped defeat an effort to resurrect a coal-mine safety reform bill put together after the deaths of 29 workers at the Massey Energy Upper Big Branch Mine in April 2010.
But forget improving mine safety. Paul Ryan's budget may not be Mitt Romney's official plan, at least as long as he's campaigning and it's still deeply unpopular. But here's what that budget would have done to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, according to an analysis by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Democratic staff. If Ryan's cuts to the MSHA budget were applied across the board evenly:
MSHA would lose 22 coal mine inspectors in 2013 (5.4 percent of 411 total inspectors), and another 78 (19 percent of 411 inspectors) in 2014, dropping the coal inspectors from 411 to 311 nationwide by 2014. That’s even less than they had at the lowest ebb of the Bush years (2006). In 2006, the year of the Sago mine disaster which prompted the rebuilding of the agency, there were 326 coal inspectors.
If Romney's use of coal miners as an unpaid campaign prop and his praise of the coal CEO who required miners to lose pay to hear Romney speak didn't tell you enough about where the Republican ticket stands on coal miners as opposed to coal CEOs, Ryan's obstruction of mine safety legislation and attempts to cut current mine safety inspectors should clear up any doubt.

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Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 08:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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