Good Idea

Will commission move to Appalachia?

While President Donald Trump’s proposed budget eliminates the Appalachian Regional Commission — with good reason — two members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation still see enough value in the agency to propose a way for it to continue.

Though the commission has been almost entirely ineffective since it was formed in 1965 to boost economic development and reduce poverty in distressed Appalachian counties, it does serve as the avenue through which some federal money is funneled to the region. Politicians do not want to see that end.

But there is a catch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledges the ARC is inefficient and needs improvement. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., points out every president for the past 40 years has questioned the waste and mismanagement of the agency and whether it should be abolished. So if it wants to save itself, McConnell and Rogers think the ARC should be moved — out of Washington, D.C., and into a location yet-to-be-determined, in the heart of Appalachia.

While the stated goal is to refocus the commission, reduce administrative costs and make it more accountable to the communities it serves, McConnell and Rogers may have another motive in mind.

Imagine the looks on the faces of comfortable D.C. bureaucrats when they are told they must move to the region they have failed so miserably; and that they must work harder and will be held more accountable when they do.

It is unlikely the ARC’s funding will be cut substantially, much less that the agency will be eliminated. The ARC is simply too entrenched politically, with too many powerful friends in Washington, for either of those things to happen. But moving it into the region it is supposed to serve — and out of “the swamp” — could be a productive change.

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