January 20 2012
The Keystone Cops: Do They Care About Jobs?
So it’s not every day something President Obama has done is described as “an act of national insanity” on the Washington Post’s opinion page. But here is the lead to Robert Samuelson’s column today:
President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it.
All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.
Samuelson, of course, is an economist who frequently leans conservative.
But the Keystone decision is so breathtakingly dumb that even the editorial board of the liberal Washington Post is flummoxed:
We almost hope [the rejection of Keystone] was a political call because, on the substance, there should be no question.
Samuelson lists the reasons the decision was wrong: it insults our friendly neighbor to the north; it won’t actually affect carbon emissions; it makes us more dependent on oil from hostile countries, and it forgoes all the jobs the project would have created.
There has, as you know, been lots of debate on how many jobs the pipeline would create but the Post editorial board argues that, whatever the numbers, “constructing the pipeline would still result in job gains during a sluggish economic recovery.”
Giving Keystone the green light would truly have been a pivot to jobs.
Speaking of which, I’ve already blogged on my view of President Obama and jobs: he’s just not that into job creation. If he were, he would have approved Keystone XL and taken a hit from greenies. I am sure the president would like for more Americans to have work. I just can’t help thinking that he feels that his administration has bigger, more historic fish to fry.
An editorial I’ve already plugged in the Wall Street Journal yesterday made a similar point: Obama is driven by larger social policy ambitions and these goals trump job creation. Jonah Goldberg hit this theme, too, in a Keystone column.
The constituency for which Obama rejected the pipeline isn't that worried about finding work for an unemployed relative. As William Tucker notes, they are above such tacky concerns:
In turning down Keystone, however, the President has uncovered an ugly little secret that has always lurked beneath the surface of environmentalism. Its basic appeal is to the affluent.
Despite all the professions of being "liberal" and "against big business," environmentalism's main appeal is that it promises to slow the progress of industrial progress.
People who are already comfortable with the present state of affairs -- who are established in the environment, so to speak -- are happy to go along with this.
With the Keystone decision, President Obama has made it clear that he is not the champion of middle-class or blue-collar Americans.
He is the champion of arugula Americans.