President Obama is against building the Keystone pipeline. This we know. What is hard to figure out is why. First he opposed it on environmental grounds, but that argument got no traction except with radical left-wing environmentalists who automatically oppose anything that might increase the world’s supply of oil. Now he opposes the pipeline because he claims it will not create a sufficient number of permanent jobs. Here is what senior Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer had to say about the president’s attitude toward the job-creation potential of the Keystone pipeline: “One infrastructure project is not a jobs strategy. That would be like saying our jobs strategy is to repair the Key Bridge…in the overall scale of the employment situation in this country, as the president said, it’s a blip. And when that’s done, contrary to…the rhetoric you hear, it’s 50 to 100 permanent jobs.”
This statement is so ludicrous on so many levels one struggles to know where to start in rebutting it. First, the purpose of the Keystone pipeline is to transport oil in the most efficient and least costly manner possible, not to create jobs. The fact that building and maintaining the pipeline will create jobs—both temporary and permanent—is an added attraction and an important one, but it is not the main purpose of the pipeline. The Keystone pipeline has value for the American economy regardless of the number of jobs it creates. Anything that will serve to increase the world’s supply oil and make it more accessible is a good thing.
Obsama’s denunciation of the Keystone pipeline because the bulk of the jobs to be created are temporary is just one more example of the president’s ignorance of economics in general and jobs in particular. All construction jobs are temporary by definition. Construction crews complete one project and move on to the next. This is the nature of the construction industry. It relies on growth. That is to say construction crews rely on economic growth to ensure that there will be a next project after the one they are currently working on. In the new Obama economy this reliance on growth has not worked out too well for construction workers—all the more reason to build the pipeline. As to the president’s claim that the Keystone pipeline is just a “blip” when it comes to job creation, tell that to the 50 to 100 people who will get these high-paying permanent jobs. Someone should remind Barack Obama that a president who has overseen the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression cannot afford to sniff at 50 to 100 high-paying, permanent jobs.
Somehow temporary jobs were just the thing when President Obama introduced his stimulus program. They were all the rage. All across America unemployed people were going to be put back to work on “shovel-ready” projects, primarily in the construction industry. All of these jobs—most of which turned out to be more promise than reality—were to be temporary in nature. Here is what the president had to say about construction jobs in a speech in November 2011: “Of all the industries hammered by this economic downturn, construction has been among the hardest hit. I’m joining many of these workers to say that it makes absolutely no sense when there is so much work to be done, that they’re not doing the work.”
This same statement could be applied to the Keystone pipeline. Yes, the bulk of the jobs created will be temporary, but in construction temporary jobs are the norm not the exception. Further, there are a lot of unemployed Americans whose lives would be improved markedly by having one of these temporary jobs the president is turning his nose up at. To please his liberal base, Barack Obama is looking for a legitimate reason to refuse to build the Keystone pipeline. Here’s a hint Mr. President: there isn’t one. Consequently, someone should remind the president that he has already been re-elected and cannot run again. This being the case, why doesn’t he put politics aside for once and do something good for America?