The XL pipeline was supposed to be the low-hanging fruit for this new Congress. Surveys show the public overwhelmingly supports its construction. The six-year approval process for the pipeline had become a mockery, and government studies couldn’t stall the project any longer. Even the labor unions, a key Democrat constituency anxious for the 40,000-plus jobs the project would create, were in support.
What’s more, the project represents a giant step toward moving to North American energy independence and reduces our dependence on foreign oil. The project eventually would even reduce the pressure on our allies that are reliant on Russian oil, and have been forced to stand idly by as Russia invades its neighbors.
The pipeline vote in this new Congress that delivered a bill for signing to Obama’s desk was amazingly bipartisan. A total of 29 Democrats joined Republicans in the House to pass the measure, and nine Democrats in the Senate (over 25% of their party) joined every Republican in passing the bill by a filibuster-proof majority of 62-36.
The measure wasn’t only bipartisan in Congress but, according to a recent CNN poll, it had overwhelming support in almost every single demographic. Only those people who described themselves as liberals opposed the pipeline and that opposition was only in the single digits.
Thus, this was it. There is no other issue of any significance that enjoys so much general agreement. This was the moment that Obama would signal whether he would work with Republicans to advance bipartisan initiatives or continue to wage war on anyone not part of his agenda. So Obama has sent his message, and virtually no one now expects Congress to be able to do anything substantive or address any significant issues.
Obama’s recalcitrance is hard to fathom. He has presided over the largest decline in the number of eligible workers actually working in modern history, and spent billions of dollars that failed to create jobs. The pipeline offered 40,000 jobs, admittedly many of which would only last during the 2-plus years of building it, but they would come without having to spend one government dollar.
This was a message. It’s the message that Obama has no desire to work with the opposition, or even the moderates within his own party. He’s made it clear that he will continue to act unilaterally. From immigration to Keystone, Obama has signaled that he has every intention of circumventing Congress. What’s more, he doesn’t believe that Republicans can stop him from acting as both the executive and the legislative branches of the federal government.
It has taken us a long time but our nation has come full circle. In the earliest days of the formation of our great republic, some wanted to establish George Washington, the hero of our American Revolution, as a king or monarch. He wisely declined and more thoughtful minds prevailed. Today, however, we have in Obama a president who has declared himself to be just that.
The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.
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