Sunday, September 18, 2011

The oil constituency

In the latest iteration of his Let's Play Make-Believe President routine, Boehner gave a jobs speech too! And it contained this gem:
"I’m not opposed to responsible spending to repair and improve infrastructure. But if we want to do it in a way that truly supports long-term economic growth and job creation, let’s link the next highway bill to an expansion of American-made energy production. Removing some of the unnecessary government barriers that prevent our country from utilizing its vast energy resources could create millions of new jobs."
Whoa, what? No, I don't think it would. Like, first of all, how long would this take? Millions of new jobs over the next three years are nice. Millions of new jobs over the next ten years -- not so much. But locating oil and coal reserves and building rigs and training workers and mining and drilling: this all takes time. Obama might have gotten a lot of guff for talking about "shovel-ready" projects back in 2009, but there's a reason it's important that stimulus projects not be long-term ventures requiring years of prep work. Besides, the amount of economic benefit that could be derived from increased exploitation of energy resources is limited by the amount of energy resources actually available in the United States. Republicans are congenitally incapable of remembering this, but that's not a very large amount. Seriously, I'm not just making this up.  The strangest part of the Republican position on oil use is that it's entirely dependent on us living in a fictional version of the United States where vast, undiscovered, untapped oil reserves lie underneath all our most beautiful wildlife preserves .  

Still, Boehner isn't saying anything that every other Republican hasn't already said by now. Which brings me to my second point: what is the deal with the bizarre GOP fetish for fossil fuel production?  It requires such a total dismissal of so many scientifically verifiable facts, about climate change and health consequences and limited oil reserves.  The more specific the proposals get, the harder it is to believe that anyone honestly supports them as a matter of national economic policy.  I can at least sort of understand why, if you're a kind of dim bulb who ignores climate science, you might inclined to cheerlead, say, the use of tar sands.  But who on earth thinks the solution to the recession is to install drilling rigs off of Cape Hatteras?  And yet so many GOP policy proposals tilt towards the latter.  Why?  What's the constituency for this? 

On my good days, I assume it's "crotchety old white guys who would cut off their nose to spite a liberal's face."  On my bad days, I assume it's just Exxon-Mobil executives. 

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