Sen. Mitch McConnell wants us to believe that he is responsible for the cancer screenings and compensation program for workers at the U.S. Enrichment Corp.'s Paducah gaseous diffusion plant and other nuclear facilities.
But Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., was the lead sponsor of the Energy Employees Occupational Compensation Program Act of 2000, which benefits nuclear workers who have suffered from cancer and other serious illnesses related to radiation exposure.
The legislation passed the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support. President Bill Clinton and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, both Democrats, backed the bill.
Sen. McConnell wasn't the only politician to demand an investigation of health hazards at the plant after the Washington Post published stories about them in 1999. Richardson ordered the energy department to look into problems at the plant. Gov. Paul Patton, a Democrat, named a state task force to examine charges of serious environmental damage caused by the plant, also according to the Post.
Now the Paducah plant is shutting down and many of the workers are getting laid off. Good jobs are scarce in our region. Yet McConnell is against long-term unemployment insurance. He also wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, under which the jobless workers could get health insurance.
President Abraham Lincoln famously observed, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Sen. McConnell isn't fooling anybody.
JEFFREY L. WIGGINS
Western Kentucky Area Council
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