Rep. Paul Ryan told a group of business leaders at a campaign event in Charleston Monday that West Virginia needs to elect Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to the U.S. Senate to help block environmental regulations on existing power plants and to help repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Ryan, R-Wis., the 2012 Republican vice-presidential candidate, accused the Obama administration of overstepping its constitutional authority in having the Environmental Protection Agency write the regulations.
“The best thing to do is send the administration back to the drawing board,” Ryan said. “You can only do that with both houses of Congress.”
The Senate, currently controlled by Democrats, is up for grabs this year. Republicans hope to pick up a seat in West Virginia, where Capito, a Republican, is the favorite in her race against Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
The EPA regulations are one of the most prominent topics on which Capito and Tennant seem to agree, with both harshly critical of President Obama and vowing to fight the regulations.
“The design is to put coal out of business,” Ryan told Brian Kiser, an unemployed coal miner, at the Capito event. “Coal is the secret sauce to giving us abundant, affordable energy.”
The Obama administration estimates that if the regulations take full effect, coal would provide 30 percent of the nation’s power in 2030, down from 39 percent last year.
The regulations are designed to fight global warming, a problem that Ryan and many other Republicans are often unwilling to acknowledge.
After the event, the Wisconsin congressman declined to say whether he thought carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming, something that is agreed upon by an overwhelming majority of experts.
“I’m not going to get into that whole debate,” Ryan said. “Let me just keep at this, which is I think these coal regs are obnoxious, I think they’re exceeding their authority and I think they kill jobs.”
Capito has repeatedly declined to respond to the Gazette when asked if she agrees with the scientific consensus on global warming.
Ryan also pushed for the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, saying he thought it was designed to destroy employer-provided health care. “The premise of this law is so fundamentally flawed that you have to replace the entire law,” he said Monday.
More than 134,000 West Virginians have gotten insurance through the state’s Medicaid expansion, part of the Affordable Care Act, and several recent surveys have shown a sharp decline in Americans without health insurance, particularly in states that expanded Medicaid.
So far, 26 states have chosen to expand Medicaid.
Ryan, whose home state of Wisconsin did not expand Medicaid, declined to say whether he thought West Virginia made the right decision in doing so.
“I’m not going to go into what each state did or didn’t do,” he said. “There are better ways of extending health insurance to the uninsured. We can have a system in America where we have everyone have access to affordable health insurance.”
Ryan said that he worries that government programs funding higher education, like Pell Grants, have been fueling tuition hikes at colleges.
“When the government funds, pushes money in this side, it ends up just inflating tuition inflation,” he said.
Ryan’s budgets, which have consistently passed the House along party lines, call for steep reductions in federal spending, particularly in programs like Pell Grants and food stamps that serve low-income people.
“I’ll remind you that every single county in the state voted to make Paul Ryan our vice president,” Capito said. “Him putting a stamp of approval on my campaign means a lot to me.”
Before the afternoon campaign event, Ryan also joined Capito for a private fundraiser in Charleston.