Pipeline Blocked. Keystone Kops in pursuit. Suspect is Middle-aged Black Male.
January 19, 2012
Republicans are already blasting Obama for failing to stand up to his base — environmentalists had organized aggressively against the decision, and deserve tremendous credit for helping to make this outcome happen. Whether or not a fear of the base drove this decision, Obama did stand up to his Republican opponents.
When Congressional GOP leaders initially tied the Keystone approval decision to the debate over whether to extend the payroll tax cut, Republicans — and some neutral commentators, too — confidently predicted that Obama would not be able to oppose the pipeline, because he would be nixing jobs heading into an election year. It didn’t matter that an independent study cast doubt on how many jobs the probject would create; this was seen as a sure loser for the president.
But even some proponents of the project say that by attempting to box Obama in, Republicans ended up making it more likely that the Presient would call the GOP bluff and shoot down the project, the political consequences be damned. As John Engler, a pipeline backer and former Michigan governor who is now head of the Business Roundtable, put it last week: “No chief executive likes to be painted into a corner by anybody.”
The politics of this going forward are murky. Republicans will hammer Obama relentlessly as a “job killer” who puts the whims of pointy-headed greenies before the interests of the American worker. One question is whether the media will uncritically report on the GOP’s argument without pointing to doubts about the number of jobs the pipeline would have created, and without noting the larger context, which is that Republicans have opposed virtually every job-creation policy Obama has proposed in the last year. Also: Will the fact that the state department warned that it could be forced to reject the pipeline if Republicans insisted on an expedited decision vanish down the memory hole?
All the breathless talk about the need for the jobs from this single project might lead you to believe that the GOP congress is chomping at the bit to do whatever it can for the unemployed and hurting – not with just boom-and-bust projects in a few red states, but in every community, every state.
You’d be wrong. The congressional GOP has consistently, even unanimously, opposed anything the black guy brings up to create jobs – even when their own constituents think its a good idea.
Here, for example, is the breakdown of what self-identified Republican voters think of the components of President Obama’s American Jobs Act, as it currently exists in the U.S. Senate:
Do you favor or oppose “cutting the payroll tax for all American workers”?
Republicans in favor: 58%
Republicans opposed: 40%
Do you favor or oppose “providing federal money to state governments to allow them to hire teachers and first responders”?
Republicans in favor: 63%
Republicans opposed: 36%
Do you favor or oppose “increasing federal spending to build and repair roads, bridges, and schools”?
Republicans in favor: 54%
Republicans opposed: 46%
Do you favor or oppose “increasing federal aid to unemployed workers”?
Republicans in favor: 36%
Republicans opposed: 63%
Do you favor or oppose “increasing the taxes paid by people who make more than one million dollars a year”?
Republicans in favor: 56%
Republicans opposed: 43%
Remember, overall, each of these ideas enjoy broad national support, but I’m highlighting the opinions of Republicans only. And in four of the five key parts to the Democratic plan, self-identified GOP voters approve of Obama’s ideas, in some cases by wide margins.
I mention this in part to show just how mainstream the American Jobs Act is, but also to note the chasm between Republican voters and Republican policymakers. With 63% of the GOP’s rank-and-file supporting, for example, aid to states to protect teachers’ and first responders’ jobs, it’s tempting to think at least some GOP lawmakers in Washington would support the idea. But in reality, that’s just not the case — literally zero Republicans on Capitol Hill are willing to even allow a vote on a popular jobs idea, during a jobs crisis, that even their own party’s voters strongly support.
Congratulations, congressional Republicans. You’re now far more extreme than your own supporters.