The US House of Representatives passed on Tuesday (December 13, 2011), despite a White House veto threat, a bill that had in it two key components: (1) it would force work to begin on the 1,700-mile-long Keystone XL oil pipeline, and (2) it would keep 160 million workers from seeing their payroll tax go up on January 1, 2012, from this year’s 4.2% back to 6.2%. The bill ignores Democrat proposals to place a surtax on people earning more than $1 million annually to offset the payroll tax non-increase. Other bill provisions include renewal of expiring extra benefits for long-term jobless people, and stop a cut in doctors’ Medicare reimbursements. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “It was dead before it got to the Senate. The Senate will not pass it.”
Labor unions (Keystone XL pipeline supporters) and environmentalists (pipeline opponents) are both very big Obama supporters. On Thursday, November 10, 2011, Obama dodged a sensitive situation by deferring the decision on extending TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline. Obama punted. He delayed the decision on the pipeline by supporting the State Department’s move to “seek additional information about the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal.” Obama cited a need for studies of how the pipeline could avoid harming fragile lands in Nebraska when he announced in November, 2011, that work would be delayed until after the 2012 elections. The GOP bill would give the president 60 days to act or the needed work permit would be automatically granted.
Proponents of the pipeline say work on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, proposed to run from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to Texas oil refineries, would create 20,000 jobs and add $20 billion to the US economy. Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs the pipeline will create through increased business for local goods and service providers. Opponents say the real figure is more like 5,000 to 6,000 jobs. “This is a stick in the eye [for Democrats],” said House Democrat Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
House Republicans and dozens of House Democrats united to pass a bill in July, 2011, that would have kept the pipeline on schedule, but that bill died in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Now that the Keyustone XL pipeline has been linked with a position Democrats favor, they are outraged. Steny Hoyer said that Republicans’ efforts to force a vote on the pipeline by attaching it to legislation that would extend the payroll tax cuts enacted last year was a partisan tactic that would insert a “controversial” issue into a bill it has nothing to do with. Said Hoyer, “I don’t think it has any analogy to anything other than a clear, politically motivated effort to make this a controversial bill, which would appeal to some of their most conservative members who don’t give one whit about compromise.”
So now with the House passage of a bill attaching the pipeline to Democrat favored issues will force the Senate, and Obama since Democrat senators will do his bidding, to “get off the dime” and let Americans know where he stands.
But that’s just my opinion.