"We still work with some moderate Republicans," Rahall said. "But if they want to keep their positions, they have to keep their eye on the right wing of their own party. The Tea Party opposes compromises."
Rahall would not say who he plans to vote for in the race for president, but said he thinks the chances for compromise between Democrats and Republicans will be better if President Obama is re-elected, and Republicans see that voters have rejected tea party-driven positions.
Increased spending on transportation and infrastructure is critical to a healthy economy, Rahall stressed. "China, Japan and India are investing more in their infrastructure as percentages of their gross domestic products compared to the U.S," he said.
Major transportation systems, such as highways and railroads, must be planned nationally and funded nationally, Rahall said.
He criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for blocking new coal mining permits in West Virginia.
Several other problems also face the coal industry today, Rahall said, including low natural gas prices, a weakening world demand for metallurgical coal mined in Southern West Virginia, last year's warm winter and "overzealous environmentalists."
Rahall said he does not believe coal emissions are the main cause of climate change today. He cited vehicle emissions as one of "many other factors."
He said the economy and country could be badly hurt if the nation hurtles over the "fiscal cliff" coming at the end of the year, referring to severe budget cuts set for Jan. 1. Those cuts were triggered when a debt "super committee" of members of Congress from both parties could not come to a budget agreement.
The federal budget deficit could be reduced, Rahall said, by cutting "expensive outdated defense systems," foreign aid programs and Bush-era tax cuts.
"We cannot allow an extension of tax cuts for people making $1 million a year and above," Rahall said. "And we should not have been granting a tax cut at the same time we are fighting wars."
Rahall also said he opposes abortion, gay marriage and agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he said facilitate trade with countries whose industries operate with few, if any, government standards for wages, worker safety and environmental protection.
Rahall also criticized the U.S. Supreme Court's January 2010 Citizens United decision that ruled corporations are like individual people. Today, corporations can make unlimited political donations to help any candidate running for federal office.
Election Day is Nov. 6. Early voting in West Virginia begins Oct. 24.Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5614.