As a senator, Barack Obama was addicted to this particular word: “present.” Time and again Senator Obama employed his favorite word to avoid taking a position on the great issues of the day. Once he was elected president, voting “present” seemed to no longer be an option. Or so we thought.
The president’s decision not to make a decision on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is, in all effects, another present vote. Caught between two opposing points of view, Obama understood that taking one side or another was fraught with political consequences. So, he did what he does best: the president kicked the can down the road.
On the one hand, this administration’s singular inability to do anything to fight unemployment is a huge liability as we roll into the next election cycle. Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would ultimately bring about 800,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil down to U.S. refineries, would create hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs, and would secure an important source of non-OPEC oil.
If Obama had come out squarely against Keystone XL, he would have left himself open to charges – entirely justified – that he refused to take an action that would have immediate and measurable effect on both the economy and the unemployment situation. Moreover, it would also anger the unions that would stand to benefit from the massive construction project, unions which are important to the president both in terms of campaign contributions and votes.
It would have been idiotic to openly kill the project this close to an election. Think about it. Construction of Keystone XL would result in hundreds of billions of dollars pouring into the economy, much of it in the form of wages, and the government wouldn’t have to shell out even one of our tax dollars to make it happen. How can anybody possibly be against it?
But, on the other hand, the so-called “green vote” is also important to this president. It’s hard to see why. I mean – seriously – is a hard-core enviro-activist going to vote for the Republican candidate? They should, since Republican administrations have been responsible for more draconian environmental statutes than any Democratic administration, but that’s not the way the tree-hugging crowd sees it – reality being something of an alien concept among the greenies.
The enviros despise Keystone XL, for a couple of reasons. They’re certain that oil from the pipeline will leak into shallow aquifers in Nebraska, which will contaminate the water that farmers in the state use to grow government-subsidized corn crops which is turned into government-mandated ethanol at government-subsidized plants.
This would, of course, be a disaster – for the government at least – and it must be admitted that pipelines do leak now and again. On the other hand, a gigantic pile of government laws and regulations ensure that when anyone contaminates soil or groundwater the guilty parties are held financially liable and forced to pay for a thorough clean up.
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