In an oft-cited exchange, President Obama asked what it would take to return the jobs companies like Apple outsource to other countries; Steve Jobs responded, “those jobs aren’t coming back.” It was a direct, honest appraisal of the U.S. business climate. Yet despite all his talking points and speeches about the importance of creating jobs and putting Americans back to work, the president’s actions have stood in sharp contrast with his rhetoric.
If he is serious about restoring the economy to renewed growth, he can start with a sensible energy policy that fosters jobs and our energy supply and security. So far, the Obama administration has moved in exactly the wrong direction. For example, the president has “delayed” (or shut down) the Keystone XL pipeline, despite estimates that the project would create 20,000 high-paying new construction jobs, provide a secure source of energy, and bolster relations with Canada, our biggest supplier of oil. He acted on the basis of fallacious arguments to appease a small group of environmental activists.
Few would disagree that the prospect of renewable energies meeting the country’s needs is alluring. But that possibility is decades away at best, and unachievable without the resources available to us now. Despite years of government subsidies, renewables account for only eight per cent of energy demand. Moreover, while the government has lost billions of dollars on favored “green energy companies the oil industry has steadily added jobs — growing over 20 percent since President Obama took office. The $500 million Solyndra failure is the poster-version of taxpayer-funded project that produce neither jobs nor energy.
At the same time the president has never wavered in his efforts to hamper growth in the oil and gas industry, jeopardizing jobs and our global energy competitiveness. The president gives “green companies” massive subsidies while he is unrelenting in his efforts to impose massive tax hikes on oil and gas. He wants to eliminate “dual-capacity tax provisions” that save U.S. (only) companies operating internationally from being taxed twice. Removing oil and gas companies’ protection under those rules would push jobs out of the U.S. and have a negative net impact on federal revenues.
The president would be better served to reform business policies to encourage more economic expansion and bring back activity within our borders. Some of his colleagues on Capitol Hill are not helping, either. Such is the case with Sen. Bob Menendez’s amendment today to the Senate Finance Committee’s highway bill, which would harm American competitiveness, constrict our ability to enhance energy security, and increase prices for fuel.
America can continue to lead the world in innovation and development, and under the right policies it will. We can’t afford to limit ourselves by allowing the government to favor certain industries; government has never been good at picking winners and losers. The U.S. business environment should encourage growth to lure business back to the U.S. Such a policy would simultaneously bolster our energy independence. Those things can only happen if, rather than target the oil and gas industry, the president would realize how vital it is to all our dreams for America.