The House of Representatives has voted in favor of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Our Congressman Hal Rogers voted in the majority.
In his 5th Congressional District 83,000 people gained insurance under the ACA. The district ranks dead last of the 435 congressional districts in measures of well-being. It is the poorest district in the United States. There are thousands in the district who will lose their health insurance, many by having pre-existing conditions. These are people who every two years line up and faithfully vote to return him to Washington to represent their interests.
Rogers has done very well bringing millions of dollars in development money to his district. We have good roads and the Center for Rural Development is a showpiece.
Rogers was first elected to the House in 1981 and has served uninterrupted until now. He eventually rose to the offices of the elite only to be met with an insurgent party that killed the practice of earmarks, leaving him without the spoils of victory.
He’s done a fairly good job at attracting some industry to our area largely because we work cheap and give out incentives fairly freely. Many of those efforts are mired in the same quest by the wealthy to insure that those development dollars end up in their pockets.
I have to say, though, that the vote to strip his constituents of the basic right to affordable health care is the nadir of his career.
The congressman turns 80 this year and likely will not serve too many more terms. His apex of power has been reached and is on the wane. He will be able to retire to Somerset to live out his time with reverence.
It is good to be a king. Now, though, he might turn his thoughts to his legacy.
We have been fortunate here in Somerset and Pulaski County to hold dear another icon who has our love and respect in Senator John Sherman Cooper.
Cooper is in the top two or three Kentuckians who have served their constituents and their nation with great dignity and distinction. As a young man I became an admirer of his courage when he teamed with Democrat Frank Church to offer the Cooper-Church Amendment to limit funding to the Vietnam War and the invasion of Cambodia.
It was the first high-level attack on the status of the war in Vietnam and he did it as a Republican during the administration of Republican President Richard Nixon. It took a great deal of nerve and righteousness to do that and he was attacked for it. It failed to pass Congress but it still stands as a significant point of resistance to an immoral war.
Cooper also served as ambassador to the United Nations, to NATO, to India and was special emissary for the president on many occasions. A statue in bronze stands on our Fountain Square to demonstrate our respect and honor his memory. He was in all likelihood the last of the great Kentucky statesmen.
Rogers has the opportunity to rise in comparison with Cooper. He can become a renowned member of his party by helping put partisan gridlock away.
It is thought that he is unbeatable in the 5th district. Without fear of losing an election he is in a unique position to reach across the aisle to form coalitions that will bring real improvement in well-being to his constituents who have been battered by persistent poverty, drug addiction and pollution. He, too, can become a beloved icon and maybe someday get his own recognition on the square.
Robert F. Moore of Science Hill is a mechanical contractor and a former community columnist.