Competitiveness Where It Counts
President Barack Obama is starting to look a lot like President Ronald Reagan -- what with his pre-Christmas tax cuts, talk of “growth,” appointment of moderate William M. Daley as his new chief of staff, and brilliant speech of healing in Tucson.
Then, like Reagan, he began talking “competitiveness.” He vowed to cut job-killing government red tape and jump-start job creation and named GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as head of his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. “Competitiveness, growth, and jobs” will be the watchwords in his State of the Union address.
It’s been a boffo performance. By grabbing the political center, he’s confounding the critics. Even Karl Rove and PJM's own Roger L. Simon are talking about his re-election in 2012 as ever more likely.
The only thing is, Obama is counting on us getting Alzheimer’s and forgetting all his liberal handiwork and how much he has failed, and continues to fail, to unleash competitive job-creating energies -- hopeful talk and good intentions notwithstanding.
Never forget: It’s the jobs, stupid -- real jobs and lots of ‘em -- that count with voters.
A top destination should be oil and gas exploration, which, along with energy, contains a bonanza of jobs -- and, oh by the way, would produce a gusher of tax revenues, thus obviating the need for more insane borrowing from the Chinese.
But this is where Obama has failed most miserably -- largely because his liberal base won’t let him succeed -- which he’s counting on us forgetting and/or forgiving in exchange for windmills and battery-charged cars.
It’s easy to forget when the press barely noticed that on December 1, Obama rescinded his March 2010 decision to expand offshore oil exploration in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast.
Taken together, these regions have as much oil reserves as Norway (7.5 billion barrels), and as much gas reserves as Canada (58.5 trillion cubic feet of gas).
This expansion of offshore drilling, only partially opening those waters, would have provided enough oil to fuel more than 2.4 million cars and heat 8 million households for 60 years, while creating tens of thousands of jobs. The oil and gas industry already employs 2.1 million workers directly and 7.1 million more indirectly.
The little-noticed moratorium, expected to be in effect for at least seven years, is as much an overreaction as Obama’s limp response to the Gulf oil spill over five excruciating months in 2010, e.g., essentially refusing foreign help, was an underreaction.
While the BP oil spill was a disaster of epic proportions, as the recently released U.S. National Oil Spill Commission report recounted in great detail, it was totally preventable. That’s because we have the technology to ensure safe offshore drilling -- it’s our technology -- that competitors like China are using to reap big profits.
But jobs and energy independence must wait while government develops stronger safety and environmental standards, thus slowing investment and halting job creation -- ultimately causing the oil and gas production pipeline to atrophy.
The Obama administration’s continuing ham-handed response to BP’s catastrophic error -- using it to justify this job-killing, energy industry-busting and tax revenue-slashing moratorium -- is causing greater and unnecessary pain.
The resulting failure to remain competitive in the global energy sector has grave economic, fiscal, monetary and national security implications.
And it’s unworthy of the American spirit.
That’s why the 2012 presidential race -- now shifting into high gear -- far from being a fait accompli for Obama’s re-election, provides a rich opportunity to renew America’s true spirit of competitiveness that founded, built, and will preserve this country we love so much.