After years of review, President Obama has killed the Keystone XL pipeline project. The pipeline would have moved crude oil from Western Canada to Nebraska, where it would have connected to existing pipelines and moved the oil to refineries at the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The exact number of jobs that the project would have created was disputed, but a reasonable estimate seems to be several thousand jobs. These would have been largely blue-collar jobs, which is why labor unions, usually a constituency that a Democratic president seeks to please, supported the project.
But another Democratic constituency, the environmental lobby, opposed the project, and they won the day with our president.
Immediately after the president killed the project, the three Democrat presidential contenders — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley — endorsed the president’s decision.
Looking at the rationale the president used to justify his politically motivated decision to kill this pipeline project raises the question, “Why do so many working-class Americans, and in particular low-income Americans, continue to support big-government Democrats, who are more interested in their left-wing agendas than creating jobs and prosperity in America?”
Polls regularly show the economy and jobs at the top of the concerns of Americans. And on that front, this president has been a particular disaster.
But you wouldn’t know it listening to his justification for killing this project.
“The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy,” said the president. He then continued on to describe how the economy has supposedly thrived under his watch.
“Our businesses created 268,000 new jobs last month. They’ve created 13.5 million new jobs over the past 68 months — the longest streak on record. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent.”
We must wonder if President Obama knows better or if he actually believes this deceptive and distorted picture about what is going on with our economy.
We are experiencing one of the most sluggish economic recoveries in history.
In a paper submitted for the Focusing the Presidential Debates Project, Hoover Institution economist John Cochrane points out, “sclerotic growth is the overriding economic issue of our time.”
Cochrane notes, “from 1950 to 2000 the US economy grew at an average rate of 3.5 percent per year. … From the bottom of the great recession in 2009, usually a time of super-fast catch-up growth, it has only grown at two percent per year.”
What does this mean in terms of jobs?
In contrast to the 13.5 million jobs created over the last 68 months that President Obama brags about, Ed Lazear, a Stanford economist and former chairman of President George W. Bush’s council of economic advisers, notes that if the economy had grown sufficiently fast to “make up for the recession and keep pace with growing population” it would have created 17.5 million jobs.
In other words, there are 4 million fewer jobs today than there would have been had the economic recovery been sufficiently robust to make up for the losses caused by the recession.
Why is this recovery so poor? Because this recent pipeline decision characterizes all the economic decision-making that has been taking place over the last seven years.
It’s all about government, political power and interests rather than allowing what drove the 3.5 percent economic growth from 1950 to 2000 — free enterprise.
President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce Harry Alford recently spoke at the Port of New Orleans about the suffocation of business at the hands of the regulatory state.
According to Alford, “every year since 2009, federal agencies have piled on about $150 billion in new compliance costs.” He says the total impact of regulatory costs now exceed $2 trillion.
All working Americans must hear from Republicans that economic growth is our No. 1 priority. And free enterprise is the only way to do it.