Jared Bernstein, former Chief Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, recently posted three easy to understand charts demonstrating that while the Republican Party loves to talk about how Obama’s economic policies were failures… it simply is not the case.
Here are the three charts:
Keep this in mind the next time Mitch McConnell says — as he did in reaction to Obama’s jobs plan and the prospect of fixing the crumbling bridges into Kentucky — something like this:
“I’m less enthused by the president lumping a crucial artery for goods and services in America together with a call for another stimulus and massive tax increases,” McConnell added.
And keep it in mind when the entire Republican Delegation from the State of Kentucky spews out their echo-chambered lies — as they did after the President’s jobs speech, all repeating each other — like these:
“Unfortunately, I am concerned that the president’s proposals follow the previous pattern of borrowing and spending. We have learned we cannot create a growing economy by spending more money in Washington.” – REP. BRETT GUTHRIE (KY-02)
“I remain concerned that what we’ve heard from President Obama this evening is an echo of his Administration’s unsuccessful strategy of the last few years.” – REP. HAL ROGERS (KY-05)
“At a time when we need bold leadership, the proposals outlined this evening by President Obama are disappointingly more of the same ideas he has previously offered.” – REP. ED WHITFIELD (KY-01)
“The tax, borrow and spend stimulus policies of the last several years are not working. More of the same will not work any better or more quickly than it did the last time.” – REP. GEOFFERSON DAVIS (KY-04)
“The President is proposing a nearly half-trillion-dollar stimulus – once again, following the same failed policies we saw with his last exorbitant spending spree.” – SEN. RAND PAUL
“Yet here we are, tonight, being asked by this same president to support even more government spending.” – SEN. MITCH McCONNELL
In his speech last Thursday, Barack Obama said this:
Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us a economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?
There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.
This bridge — the Brent Spence, connecting Covington and Cincinnati – is “functionally obsolete” according to the Department of Transportation and this summer large chunks of concrete began falling from the upper deck onto the lower one.
Most people would identify this as a problem.
The I-71/I-75 bridge is a key connector between Michigan, northern Ohio, Upstate New York and the Great Lakes and the industries, consumers and shippers of the American South, in particular, Florida. According to the DOT (pdf):
“The Brent Spence Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1963, was designed to carry 80,000 vehicles per day. Currently, approximately 160,000 vehicles per day use the Brent Spence Bridge and traffic volumes are projected to increase to approximately 233,000 vehicles per day in 2035.”
Except for the fact it’s Barack Obama talking about fixing it. And it might require closing tax loopholes for billion dollar corporations. And it might mean a very, very small group of very, very rich people might pay the same taxes they paid before the war and before the Bush Tax Cuts bankrupted the country.
But with those few words, Obama made the bridge a top priority for replacement and, perhaps, a subtle jab at House Speaker John Boehner of West Chester and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“I appreciate the president highlighting this project and I trust this means that when the planning for this project is solidified this administration will prioritize it,” McConnell said Friday.
Whether it will help win their support for his jobs plan remains to be seen.
“I’m less enthused by the president lumping a crucial artery for goods and services in America together with a call for another stimulus and massive tax increases,” McConnell added.
Translation: Mitch McConnell’s going to fight Barack Obama, he’s going to fight the jobs bill, he’s going to pretend it’s a stimulus package and he’s going to pretend the last one failed. He’s going to lie, cheat and steal because, as he has made clear, Mitch McConnell’s one-and-only mission is:
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
In Mitch McConnell’s world, America can go itself. Let the bridge crumble. Let it fail. Let us fall.
As for Kentucky… who cares about Kentucky?
Certainly not Mitch McConnell. Or Rand Paul. Or Hal Rogers… or Geoff Davis, the Congressman who supposedly serves the people of Northern Kentucky most affected by this bridge. And it’s not just Davis, of course. The entire state is affected by the flow of traffic along these interstates, with I-75 in particular driving commerce and investments right through our center, with thousands and thousands of jobs depending on that continued flow of traffic.
But the state’s Republican delegation have all stated their opposition to the plan the President laid out last Thursday.
The Republicans of the Commonwealth of Kentucky would rather see the Brent Spence Bridge fail than see Barack Obama succeed.They would rather see Kentucky fail than see an America with a modern transportation infrastructure.
The Sherman Minton Bridge was closed late Friday afternoon and will remain shut down indefinitely after officials discovered cracks in the span.
Will Wingfield, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said officials “do not have an estimate” on how long it will take to repair and reopen the bridge, which carries Interstate 64 traffic across the Ohio River.
Wingfield said the cracks were found in two steel support beams below the lower deck closer to the Kentucky side.
The bridge to Mitch McConnell’s hometown is falling apart — how long can his opposition to an investment in America stand?
Unlike the Sherman Minton Bridge, the will of Mitch McConnell and the Kentucky Republican Party doesn’t seem to be crumbling.
The closure came just a day after President Obama renewed his call for Congress to invest in infrastructure improvements to stimulate the economy and address the nation’s crumbling bridges and roads, as studies have shown the nation needs $2 trillion in investment just to bring its infrastructure up to date. McConnell criticized Obama’s plan, saying it was “a re-election plan.”
But while McConnell insists that Republicans “agree that we must bring America’s infrastructure up to 21st century standards,” his recent record doesn’t show it. When progressives and Democrats argued that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be geared toward infrastructure, the GOP under McConnell’s leadership fought to focus it on tax cuts. The Senate GOP derailed a 2010 jobs plan focused largely on infrastructure investment, and if McConnell’s post-speech rhetoric is to be believed, he will be at the forefront of the Republican Party’s opposition to this plan too.
Mitch McConnell and Kentucky’s Republican Party are so dedicated to the cause of Obama’s failure that they will allow America’s failure and this state’s failure.
With the failure of these bridges, Kentucky can return to the 19th Century, cut off from manufacturing, produce, consumer goods and jobs.
The old story of Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” is just that… an old story. It’s time for a new one and Mitch McConnell (and Rand, Geoff, Ed, Hal and Brett) are writing it.
You don’t need a bridge to get to their Kentucky because, as everyone will soon know, Kentucky is nowhere.
Not to be outdone by our state’s Junior Senator, 1st District Questionable Congressman Ed Whitfield wrote an op-ed of his own — though not for the Washington Times like Rand (earlier) but for The Gleaner down in Henderson:
If America is to grow and compete again, Americans must have jobs. Yet, President Obama, his federal agencies and the majority leader of the U.S. Senate are not doing the things necessary to create jobs.
Not as fiery a start as Rand (as in: he didn’t declare anything unconstitutional yet) but you get his point — The only people serious about creating jobs in America are the Republicans in the Senate and the House.
And what, pray tell, are they doing? Well, mitching and boehning about a few trillion dollars:
American financial institutions and American businesses are collectively sitting on more than $3 trillion in cash unwilling to invest or reinvest in our economy because of the uncertainty coming from our federal government.
For those of you keeping score — Mitch McConnell invoked the $3 Trillion figure last Tuesday in Texas and here we have Ed Whitfield doing the $3 Trillion tango in The Gleaner.
In each instance, from each leader, we are asked to believe that the unimaginable amount of money being hoarded by the super-rich is not a rallying cry to anger — like, who the F do they think they are sitting on all that money as the government is forced to try and fill in that gap because private industry is only in it for themselves and the rest of us can go ourselves — but rather, the fault of government.
But back to the Congressmeh:
As I traveled throughout the First Congressional District this month, I heard repeatedly from fellow Kentuckians: “What is Washington doing about jobs?”
And what did you tell them, Ed?
Well, Ed tells us, he’s trying to force the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (which doesn’t seem to bring any jobs to Kentucky, but supposedly creates 50,000 in other states) and an attack on the Clean Air Act, which supposedly “protects” a million jobs. Then he calls the EPA “a train wreck” (which is itself just another dog whistle)
His talking point is a simple one, it is the GOP talking point and they all remain on message.
Regulations, Regulations, Regulations.
The Obama administration’s total control over our lives by way of seeking clean air and safe drinking water and all manner of other regulations… this is why people are out of work…
…this is why the economy collapsed…
…this is why America’s biggest corporations are hoarding Trillions and Trillions of dollars and not re-investing it into a seriously struggling America.
It’s an offensive, reckless lie and they are getting away with it.
The Kentucky Democratic Party sits by silently. They Kentucky GOP delegation has been beating this drumbeat for a month now. There is no pushback. There is no correction. There is no challenge.
President Obama decided Friday not to raise federal ozone standards for air pollution, causing a rift with environmentalists but winning praise from industry groups and congressional Republicans.
….”I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover,” Obama said. “Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.”
The Sierra Club, MoveOn and many others had harsh words for the decision as Mitch McConnell and the Camber of Commerce and other forces of no-good praised the President and told Obama it wasn’t enough (It will never be enough, all regulations are tyranny!).
Kentucky’s Questionable Congressman, Ed Whitfield, chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman, blamed these never-instituted rules for the now four year old recession:
“This sudden admission by President Obama that ill-considered regulations do, in fact, have a negative impact upon our economy is a welcome breakthrough. A healthy economy demands certainty and flexibility; more regulatory burdens and uncertainty have forced America’s job creators, large and small businesses alike, to the sidelines to sit on trillions of dollars in capital out of fear.”
The giant corporations who are hoarding trillions of dollars are doing so out of greed, not fear. They wrecked the economy and they continue to wreck it now. Investing in America, these Corporate know-it-alls would tell you, is not a sound investment. So they’re sitting this one out. It has nothing to do with regulations and the more the Republicans try to cast “regulations” as the cause of the current state of the economy, the more out of touch they become.
More importantly — or at least, more immediately — the White House decision to put these new rules on hold until 2013 (when all ozone rules will have to be reviewed anyway ), did nothing to stop other vitally important new protections:
The White House announced on Friday that ground-level ozone levels would be reviewed in 2013 rather than tightened immediately, a move welcomed by conservatives in Texas and elsewhere. But the controversial “cross-state air pollution” rule, which aims at reducing emissions from power plants in Texas and 26 other states, remains scheduled to go into effect in January.
The cross-state rule targets nitrogen oxide, an ozone precursor, as well as sulfur dioxide, which is not an ozone precursor but can also cause lung damage.
“The cross-state air pollution rule is final,” Betsaida Alcantara, press secretary for the Environmental Protection Agency, which devised the rule, said in an e-mail.
Additionally, Obama’s decision to delay the new ozone fight — which will turn back the clock on necessarily disastrous Bush era-decisions — may simply put the debate into the beginning of his second term (if viewed optimistically) or into the court system where the Bush asthma-causing and people-killing rules, well, may not fare well:
A little over a month ago, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, said that George Bush’s ozone standards were “not legally defensible.”
The standards chosen by the George W. Bush administration to protect people from smog probably wouldn’t hold up in court, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says in a new letter to a key congressional ally, giving the best indication yet that the agency is planning to set stricter pollution limits this summer.
Incidentally, “not legally defensible” might also apply to the Whitfield/McConnell position on regulations — that we have none and that private giant corporations are more important life-forms than actual human lives. But maybe Saint Peter is a better judge of that.
So the Republican party is busy blaming the sad state of the economy on government regulations (not Wall Street, not Glass-Steagal, not the Iraq war, not anything that might make sense).
They are trying — really, really trying to make the argument that deregulating big business, especially utilities and mining, will put everyone back to work.
Needless to say, this results in these Republicans putting themselves in really dumb situations.
Take Ed Whitfield (please).
Last Thursday, WBKO caught up with the Questionable Congressman and Ed dropped some knowledge:
U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield says the way to stimulate the economy is to spur job growth by eliminating government regulations that cause economic uncertainty. ….Whitfield is chairman of a house energy subcommittee. So in an effort to help Republican House Speaker John Boehner cut $1.5 trillion from the federal budget, Whitfield suggests eliminating the Wind Power Program. He says wind power is one of the most expensive ways to generate electricity, compared to coal or nuclear power.
We’ll leave the “wind power” question to a later date and just focus on his GOP talking point lamentation — Regulations are Ruining the Economy! Because Socialist Autocrat Nazi Barry Hussein Obama is trying to control every single aspect of your life down to the water you drink –> You do not have a job. This is the GOP message. But the very same day, the Questionable Congressman showed up at a ground breaking ceremony for a water treatment plant. …that’s funded by the government… …and regulated by the government. This is called ‘irony.’ It could also be called, ‘stupid.’ Here’s the report from your really excellent source for news in Muhlenberg County:
Central City and Muhlenberg County held a groundbreaking for the expansion on the Water Treatment Plant, on River Road, in Central City, on Thursday, August 26. ….The city was notified that they were being awarded a $3 million grant from Rural Conservation. Congressman Ed Whitfield was present at the ceremony to present a check for the grant, as well as a check for a $14.45 million low-interest loan. The city had previously received a $1.5 million grant from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority. This will fund a major expansion to the water treatment plant that is currently barely meeting the demands of its more than 33,000 customers.
And here’s a video report of the groundbreaking from WEHT-TV which explains that the giant $14.5 million check Whitfield handed over is an extremely favorable loan… from Statist-Stalinist President, Barry Hussein Obama, by way of the USDA, in his ongoing mission to control your mind and your life at all times.
So, yes… federal taxpayer dollars are underwriting this great boon for Muhlenberg County.
And you know what’s even worse?
The water treatment plant is actually part of Barry Hussein’s secret plan to control the water you drink! The “treatment plant” is being built to enforce those “Job Killing Regulations.” Obama is literally trying to control the water you drink and this Whitfield-endorsed Communist water treatment plant is just Obama’s latest chess-move into total control of your brain.
I mean, just for example, the EPA announced regulations in March that will totally destroy all our jobs:
Studies have found that hundreds of industrial and agricultural chemicals, including several known carcinogens, are present in municipal water systems around the country. The nation’s laws and enforcement programs have not kept pace with spreading contamination, posing significant health risks to millions.
Wednesday’s decision to regulate perchlorate reversed a 2008 finding by the Bush administration that a nationwide standard for the chemical was unnecessary and would do little to reduce risks to human health.
Ms. Jackson announced her intent to review the nation’s drinking water standards a year ago, ordering an extensive review of the health effects of perchlorate and other toxic substances found in city water supplies. She announced on Wednesday that her agency would set standards for as many as 16 other toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.
Thousands of people throughout Whitfield’s district are sure to be jobless because of this any day now.
(As an aside, Whitfield’s very real behavior is eerily similar to this wonderful story in The Onion. But who needs satire when you have Ed Whitfield?)
Well this is just fascinating. The Heritage Institute ranked all the nation’s Reps and Sens based on some scale they made up and here’s what they made upcame up with:
Sen. Rand Paul 93%
Sen. Mitch McConnell 72%
Rep. Geoff Davis (KY-4) 63%
Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-5) 54%
Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-2) 54%
Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-1) 49%
Rep. Ben Chandler (KY-6) 20%
Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-3) 10%
Seems like ol’ Rand did pretty freaking awesome, right?
Well not really! Our little Jellied Doughnut didn’t even crack the Top 5, that’s how wacky the Heritage Inst’s “conservative” valuation really is. Demint got a 99%.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who received a 98 percent rating; South Carolina Rep. Jeffrey Duncan (97 percent); Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Arizona Rep. Trent Franks (96 percent); Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (96 percent); and Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney (95 percent).
You may recall that just last month conservatives at The New American rated all the Congresspeople on their level of “Freedom” and they found that Paul was the most Freedomy Senator in all the land. For the sake of comparison then, here’s their dumb list once again so that you may compare the Kentucky Delegation’s “Conservative” rankings to their “Freedom” rankings:
100% — Sen. Rand Paul
89% — Brett Guthrie (R-02)
80% — Ed Whitfield (R-01)
80% — Geoff Davis (R-04)
79% — Hal Rogers (R-05)
60% — Sen. Mitch McConnell
30% — Ben Chandler (D-06)
20% — John Yarmuth (D-03)
You’ll notice some patterns (Yarmuth sucks at “Freedom” and “Conservatism”) and some differences (Guthrie is significantly more “Freedomy” than he is “Conservativy” and the opposite for Mitch).
Apparently August is the best time to hold “Town Halls” if you’re an elected representative.
It’s so hot no one cares what you say and for the most part, even if you say totally crazy stuff, no one really notices. And it is in this environment that we see the GOP beginning to push their new Obama-attack, a call we will see repeated louder and louder as Congress reconvenes.
Several of Kentucky’s elected officials have held just these sort of meetings over the past few weeks — though it’s a stretch to call them “town halls.”
In almost every case, the event is actually just a direct address from the Republican representative to largely private groups, often the city or county chamber of commerce.
Certainly their constituents; hardly the people.
Mitch McConnell was in Florence this Monday lying to the Rotary Club, telling them that now is a actually perfect time to get things done in Washington.
“My point was that, ironically, it is probably the best time, and some would argue the only time, to do really hard things, because really hard things done on a partisan basis cannot be accomplished and produces a wipeout in the next election,” McConnell said. “This is actually the perfect time.”
How Mitch even said any of this without getting laughed out of the room mere weeks after the debt debate is particularly bizarre, especially when, clearly, the GOP House is screwing up even McConnell’s own ideas of what should be done. Was no one listening?
Aside from telling people how well Washington’s working right now thanks to the Tea Party, the Republican reps are spinning all sorts of tales.
This is part of a recurring set of talking points in almost every one of these businesspeople meetings, regardless of the Republican doing the talking.
The Republicans have no jobs plan, have no interest in helping everyday Americans and are instead focused on slashing the safety net (education, medicare, etc) on the one hand and, on the other, this new strategy ratcheting up — spinning lies that regulations are at fault for our destroyed economy.
Mitch McConnnell paused his “constituent” tour last week to tell The Hill that “the administration’s overregulation of the private sector and repeated calls for closing corporate tax breaks had created a pall over the economy.”
“Quit trying to raise taxes. Quit over-regulating. Washington should let the private sector flourish so we have a chance again to have a growing economy,” McConnell said.
Regulations in general, and environmental regulations specifically, are a hot topic among Republicans right now. Republicans, of course, have always been opposed to regulations governing how much business can get away with, that’s nothing new. But now they are folding this longheld opposition into a new argument. Just as they are trying to use the economic collapse they created to dismantle Medicare (which they’ve wanted to destroy from its inception), they are using the dire economic situation to try and roll back the safeties and guidelines that have reigned in otherwise dangerously freewheeling corporations for decades.
The signature jobs initiative for Republicans when Congress returns in September is an attempt to pass the REINS Act (Regulation from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny).
The REINS Act would require Congress to approve every major new regulation proposed by the White House before it takes effect. If Congress does not act within 70 days, the rule is void.
This would severely limit the power of the executive branch, since no regulations – such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases – could become effective without approval from both houses of Congress, a high bar. In this way, congressional Republicans are seeking to bring back to Congress the regulatory powers that have gradually devolved to the executive branch during the past 50 years.
Sponsors include Rep. Geoff Davis (R) of Kentucky and Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky. The bill is endorsed by business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, which is launching a summer regulation road show to boost public support.
Regulators! Mount up!
I can’t believe they taking Warren’s wealth
They took my rings, they took my rolex
I looked at the brotha, said ‘Damn, what’s next?’
On Wednesday, Mitch McConnell addressed chambers of commerce in Bell and Harlan counties, and of course he had one central message:
“We haven’t passed any new legislation, but there are a bunch of new regulators appointed by the president who busily work trying to make it difficult to burn coal and to produce low cost electricity for our country,” said Senator Mitch McConnell.
McConnell said regulation from Washington is hindering economic opportunities.
“Can you imagine what the federal government is doing to the coal companies, the banks, and to industry at large? It is literally out of control,” said Senator Paul. “You can say we need the EPA to keep our water and air clean. We should have clean water and clean air. While I’m the most pro-coal person you’ll meet, they can’t dump sludge in the creek, they can’t pollute, and nobody can dump benzene in our water. We shouldn’t have that. But what has happened is that the regulations have gone overboard. We need to get out of the way and let businesses thrive.”
Whether in faked “town hall” meetings or across the internet or over e-mail and talk radio, the business interests controlling the Republican Party and it’s (maybe) well-meaning Tea Party grassroots are banging the drum that the regulations that made our water and air cleaner over the past thirty years, that save lives every day and stand in between the greedy bastards who run the corporations that run this country (into the ground) and would bankrupt America tomorrow if they could make a million dollars (or a billion — hey, Wal-Mart!) do not need to be regulated.
Put tons of mercury directly into the water.
Cover towns in coal ash.
Let children play with toxic chemicals.
This will, somehow, create jobs.
Phil Kerpen, “vice president for policy” at Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brother’s funded front group, eloquently pushed this ridiculous argument last week, claiming the new “regulations” in last year’s Wall Street reform were actively destroying jobs. As if the unregulated Wall Street of years past created them. Same for the Health Care bill and, of course their favorite target… the EPA:
On top of that we’ve seen an astonishing train wreck of new energy regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including an aggressive effort to discover elements of the failed Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation inside the forty-year-old Clean Air Act. The EPA is now contemplating its most aggressively anti-jobs regulation: an out-of-cycle re-proposal of smog rules that would ratchet down levels so far beyond what is necessary for public health that nearly the whole country would be judged “out of attainment” and over seven millions jobs would be lost. The EPA is also attempting to impose an absurd 54.5 mile-per-gallon fuel economy standard that will take any car worth driving off the market.
So again, breathing cleaner air somehow kills jobs (and not enough people) and car companies should be left to make vehicles that burn 1 mile per gallon if they want to because that would obviously make lots and lots of jobs, like billions of them.
This logic makes no sense, and yet they use it, over and over.
Kerpen goes on to defend the media conglomerates that control your access to the internet and want to ratchet up prices and throttle access speeds, and attacks working people who try to band together to demand any sort of rights in the face of their corporate overlords, and ends with, again, a celebration of the GOP’s #1 Jobs Plan — Kentucky Congressman Geofferson Davis’ cutely named bill:
The most significant reform is the REINS ACT, H.R. 10, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis of Kentucky. The REINS Act would require approval of the House, Senate, and President for any economically significant rule before it could take effect. It would eliminate the most extreme outcomes and dampen the impact of regulatory uncertainty on businesses that would be eager to hire if they had more reasonable expectations of regulatory compliance costs. If the President is serious about creating jobs, he should stop blaming bad luck and take responsibility. He should call off the regulatory attacks at his agencies and urge passage of the REINS Act.
Because again, it was “regulatory uncertainty” not Wall Street dirtbags borrowing trillions of dollars against trillions in unpayable debt that wrecked the economy and disappeared American jobs.
It was “regulatory uncertainty” that collapsed the economy and sent unemployment above 9%, not the insanely unnecessary war in Iraq.
It was drinkable water that destroyed America’s main streets. It was safety-tested vehicles that destroyed the American dream. It was regulations, not corporations, that sapped trillions of needed dollars from America’s revenue streams over the past decade.
It was the regulations.
So Kentucky Congressman Geofferson Davis leads the GOP’s national charge to cynically attack regulations under the auspices of job creation, as though making us less safe will do something more than just make the rich richer.
And for all their complaints about how these regulations are hurting small businesses, keeping them from hiring new workers, it is clear who is paying for this ridiculous bill and who is behind these insipid attacks. As Platts recently reported:
Group says utilities the ones really lobbying for ‘small business’ bill
….Public Citizen Regulatory Policy Advocate Amit Narang in a Tuesday interview said utility interests see the legislation as a way to block new US Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would affect generators, especially those that burn coal.
“The reality of the lobbying contradicts the rhetoric we’re hearing from the Republicans,” Narang said. He added that despite the public statements from Congress about protecting small businesses, “I think it’s pretty clear that the electric utilities are the big winners if REINS were to pass.”
The 27 organizations that reported lobbying in support of the REINS Act in the first half of 2011 include 16 electric utilities and the Edison Electric Institute, Public Citizen said.
Utilities identified as lobbying for the proposal include Southern Company, Duke Energy, Xcel Energy, Constellation Energy, FirstEnergy, Progress Energy, DTE Energy, MidAmerican Energy, and the Ohio Municipal Electric Association, among others.
Also lobbying for the legislation was the US Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers.
….Public Citizen also said that lobbying power on the issue is “lopsided,” since the groups supporting the bill spent a total of about $52 million on all issues they lobbied for, including the REINS Act. Groups opposing REINS spent about $1.5 million in lobbying on all issues, including REINS.
And they won’t be satisfied by anything short of complete rollbacks. The REINS act is a campaign tool, not a jobs plan. It dummies up talking points about an Obama administration with its big government hands controlling every facet of our lives — nothing true, but easy to talk about, especially from a party that has no other options, no real plans, nothing substantive to say.
And it doesn’t matter that Obama has already preempted the REINS act, just this week announcing a set of regulations to be killed off:
Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, revealed Tuesday the administration is hoping to help businesses in America save billions of dollars by wiping out or scaling back hundreds of government regulations.
“Over the next five years, the monetized savings from just a fraction of the reforms announced today are likely to exceed $10 billion,” Sunstein wrote on the White House’s blog. “Perhaps more important, today’s plans explicitly recognize that the regulatory lookback is not a one-time endeavor. Agencies will continue to revisit existing rules, asking whether they should be updated, streamlined, or repealed.
Officials at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce quickly called the “lookback” on old regulations a step in the right direction but said it did not go nearly enough given the mountain of new regulations the President created with health care and financial reform.
“The administration’s findings and determinations, on their own, are a worthy effort at making technical changes to the regulatory process, but the results of this lookback will not have a material impact on the real regulatory burdens facing businesses today,” said Bill Kovacs, the chamber’s senior vice president of environment, tech, and regulatory affairs.
The Republicans don’t care either. The leadership will keep beating the drum and Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, led by Paul and Davis, with Mitch and Hal, Ed and Brett all at their side, will continue to lie to voters, telling them it is regulations that wrecked the economy, that destroyed the job market, and that they must be eliminated so that an unregulated madness may make us all rich. They are generating a false argument that will lead, they hope, to big gains for giant corporations and, also, to more and louder and dumber claims about President Obama’s insatiable appetite for controlling every American’s daily lives.
Few weeks ago we took at a look at Ed Whitfield, 1st District Republican Congressman, Chair of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power and recipient of at least half a million dollars from the energy industry, champion of the Koch Brother-connected Keystone XL oil sands pipeline in Canada (which wouldn’t pass through Kentucky).
While leaders negotiated the debt issue, lawmakers debated other legislation including a bill to fund the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior.
House members voted 279-147 to compel the Obama administration to make a final decision on a $7 billion oil pipeline expansion from Canada to Texas.
The bill sets a Nov.1 deadline for a decision on the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which had drawn opposition from environmentalists and some Democrats. Critics pointed to a recent leak in an Exxon/Mobil pipeline that sent 42,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana.
Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., said the pipeline expansion would allow a 700,000-barrel per day increase in the oil flowing to refineries in the Midwest and on the Gulf Coast, but “the Obama administration continues to delay this project and there seems to be no end in sight.”
Because the proposed pipeline would cross the United States-Canada border, a Presidential Permit issued by the U.S. Department of State is required for the project to proceed. This makes the pipeline subject to the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires disclosure of potential environmental impacts and the consideration of possible alternatives.
Map of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project (Map courtesy U.S. State Department)
TransCanada’s proposed US$7 billion pipeline would cross the international border between Saskatchewan, Canada, and the United States near Morgan, Montana.
The protests come as the U.S. State Department is about to release its final environmental assessment of the pipeline, which initially would have a transport capacity of 700,000 barrels per day of crude oil.
That report is expected before the end of August, and Obama will then have 90 days to decide whether granting the permit is in the U.S. national interest. By law, Congress is not involved, so Obama need not consult the climate change skeptics in the House of Representatives, who have already approved a bill to force a decision by November 1.
The orchestrated protests are set to continue as environmentalists have pledged to daily acts of civil disobedience at the White House through September 3rd.
The Keystone Pipeline would carry oil gouged from the “tar sands” of Alberta — areas where soil is thick with bitumen, which can be refined into synthetic crude oil. The process is environmentally devastating. Parts of Alberta have already been ravaged by the extraction, and the refining process involved creates twice the greenhouse gases as producing a normal barrel of crude.
Beyond the climate concerns, there’s the issue of pipeline safety — Keystone XL would traverse the entire country, from Montana to the Gulf of Mexico. Anyone unconcerned with potential pipeline failures should note the recent incident underneath the Yellowstone River, where an Exxon pipeline ruptured and spilled over 1,000 barrels of crude into the river.
There are, of course, massive financial interests behind the construction of Keystone XL. Tar sands commercials are ubiquitous on television, particularly during news programming. The industry, led by the American Petroleum Institute, has launched an enormous advertising and lobbying push.
You can find out more about the pipeline, and how to fight it, at StopThePipeline.org, and you can follow the actions on Twitter (if that’s your thing) here and here.
A few weeks ago on a conference call with reporters, Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-01) spoke truth to power:
“We want to keep passing things on the House side that would reverse things EPA is doing simply because we’d like to see those 22 Democratic senators up for re-election next year vote on some of this,” he said.
It was a nice moment. So rarely (or, you know, all the time) do Republicans make it clear that they have no interest in creating jobs for Americans or focusing on real and pressing issues or even doing anything to protect public health and that really they’re just playing a pathetic (and kinda dangerous) game of politics.
Emboldened by their success wresting concessions from the Obama administration in debt-limit talks, House Republicans now plan an assault of similar vigor on the Environmental Protection Agency.
Republicans, backed by wealthy conservative lobbyists, are determined to stop the EPA and what they see as an activist agenda that is costing jobs and hurting corporate profits.
“Right now for House Republicans one of their important rally cries is that EPA regulations are excessive and even abusive,” said Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program.
Representative Ed Whitfield, another leading Republican on energy policy issues, said that outside the debt talks his party will hammer away in hearings and through legislation on its themes that the EPA has been killing jobs and growth.
Whitfield said Democrats, especially those from energy-intensive states such as West Virginia and Ohio, should know it will be a major issue on the campaign trail.
“We want to keep passing things on the House side that would reverse things EPA is doing simply because we’d like to see those 23 Democratic senators up for reelection next year vote on some of this,” Whitfield said.
Funny story you already know too well. The entire Republican Party (and some of their apologists, like, oh, a certain governor and congressman) have launched this grand war on Obama’s totalitarian Environmental Protection Agency.
They rail on and on about how it is suffocating jobs (not lungs) and how its gigantic governmental overreach, its power grab, is really about bankrupting America and destroying our livelihoods or at least our Way of Life and isn’t that so evil and GET OFF OUR BACKS! (Or, wait, that’s that Democrat again.)
So you already know that much of this so-called power grab is just court-ordered restitution for years of Bush administration malfeasance… so not really law-breaking by the Obama admin as much as law ‘biding and the Republicans just don’t like the law and just want free reign for Big Business. Essentially, their war on the EPA is ridiculous.
In April 2008, the Bush EPA released a 20-page spreadsheet [PDF] of 94 EPA rules or actions under just the Clean Air Act that had been challenged in court until that point during the Bush administration.
As of August 2011, 37 of those cases have been decided by a court, and in nearly two-thirds of those cases (23), the courts overturned the Bush EPA rules. (The remaining 57 cases have either settled, been voluntarily dismissed, voluntarily remanded, or are still pending in court.)
In 15 of those 23 adverse rulings, the courts found that the Bush EPA had contradicted or disregarded the plain language of the Clean Air Act. This is the worst way for EPA to lose a federal environmental lawsuit, because it reflects a court’s judgment that the agency defied the plain instructions of the law.
Public health and environmental groups were the prevailing parties in 18 of those 23 Clean Air Act rulings against the Bush EPA. These groups prevailed in 13 of the 15 “plain language” court decisions. EPA lost this startling number of Clean Air Act cases because the Bush administration had adopted unlawful regulations that benefited polluting industries at the expense of human health and the environment, despite unambiguous statutory directives requiring otherwise. This was truly out-of-control behavior.
When the Obama administration took office in January 2009, it inherited the legal obligation to respond to court orders in not just these 23 Clean Air Act cases, but also in numerous other losing cases under other environmental statutes that EPA administers. The current administration inherited the responsibility to fix a decade-long mess consciously created by the Bush administration and industry supporters out of a shared ideological-economic agenda to violate environmental laws and weaken public health safeguards.
It is striking how thoroughly today’s fiercest EPA critics ignore this history and its implications. Conservative politicians like the House members quoted above, pundits like the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and industry lobbyists ignore this unprecedented wave of Bush administration lawbreaking that the Obama EPA now must rectify.
Or, it would be striking if it wasn’t so wonderfully obvious.
Who would ever expect the GOP would try blame Obama for what they and Bush totally F-d up. Who would ever.
A settlement with the U.S. and states in which the Tennessee Valley Authority will close 18 coal-fired plants and add pollution controls is drawing scrutiny from House Republicans, who say it may raise energy costs.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and five other Republicans sent a letter today asking Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson about the agreement, which requires TVA to spend $3 billion to $5 billion on equipment to reduce emissions.
“What will be the source of the funds to meet these obligations, and will the costs be passed on to ratepayers?” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
The lawmakers also ask the EPA to explain how the agreement led TVA to close almost a third of its 59 coal-fueled generators. The settlement resolves allegations that the authority violated the federal Clean Air Act.
As part of the agreement, the TVA will also invest $350 million in clean energy technology and pay a $10 million civil fine.
None of which sounds like the “settlement” of an innocent party and, were these people not Republican Congressman and thus being willfully idiotic here, it might suggest that the settlement was a good deal compared to what might have happened if the case had gone further. Indeed, that’s why people “settle.”
Joining Upton in signing this dumb letter were Kentucky Congressmen Brett Guthrie and Ed “Doggy Dog” Whitfield.