The BP oil spill puts Republicans in a real bind. Speaking of Rep. Barton’s (R-TX) apology to BP, Josh Marshall at TPM puts their dilemma into context beautifully:
… Dems take lots of oil money too. But while Dems have one night stands with the oil industry or relationships, with Republicans like Barton it’s a committed and loving relationship. Even when it’s not even helpful.
Locally, nobody exemplifies the GOP love affair with Big Oil better than Roy Blunt, who has been twisting and turning with the best of them as he tries to talk tough while getting his oil industry cronies off the hook. We noted earlier how quick he was to jump on the GOP “drill, baby,drill” effort to portray the moratorium on offshore drilling as as a greater catastrophe than the spill. However, he has branched out and is now, according to Fired Up Missouri, creating a genuinely twisted narrative in order to oppose the spill-inspired resurgence of clean-energy legislation. Yesterday morning – I swear to God – on Jamie Allman’s KSDK radio show, he made the claim that clean-energy legislation is bad for the environment:
Cap and trade is a terrible thing for our state, it’s a terrible thing for the country, and it’s a terrible thing for the environment. Because when we lose the jobs, those jobs go to somewhere that cares a whole lot less about what comes out of the smokestack than we do. And you know, America is a lot of great things, but it’s not, it’s not, it’s not, it’s not a planet. So we can’t solve this problem ourselves.
There is so much wrong with this assertion that one hardly knows where to start. However, what I’m really interested in here are Blunt’s errors of fact, which bring us to his assertions about jobs. Blunt knows as well as most of us that big swaths of our jobs went overseas long ago, even before the recession, and, if they continue to move off-shore, it will not be because of federal energy legislation. To find the culprit look no farther than misguided dedication to a one-sided, utopian concept of free-trade. Former Senator Fritz Hollings summed it up in a Huffington Post interview:
An important part of the job fraud is to make the people feel like the loss of jobs is due to the recession, not off-shoring. Long before the recession, South Carolina lost its textile industry; North Carolina lost its furniture industry; Detroit its automobile industry, and California its computer industry, etc. President Obama wants to increase exports, but we have nothing to export. … Most of the job loss is from off-shoring, not the recession.
Roy Blunt was playing a leadership role in Washington during the eight years of the Bush administration during which the off-shoring of our manufacturing jobs continued to accelerate, and I can’t remember that he got too hot and bothered about job loss then. Senator Hollings outlined several possible correctives – simple measures like canceling tax exemptions on off-shore profits for instance. But I don’t remember Roy Blunt even discussing off-shoring as a problem. One can’t be blamed for asking what exactly has changed.
This question is particularly salient since there are many convincing arguments that clean energy legislation will create jobs. Even ConservaDem Claire McCaskill understands this fact, which is why she recently signed on to a letter affirming the importance of moving forward on the green jobs front.
I don’t know about you, but before my leaders decide we can’t afford to address a potentially catastrophic climate-change crisis because jobs might go overseas, I expect them to at least discuss alternatives like those suggested by Hollings. Before we decide that clean energy legislation will hurt our job situation, I want to hear Blunt make a serious intellectual effort to justify his evident belief that green energy jobs aren’t good enough.
On one point, I do agree with Blunt – the U.S. is not a planet. It is precisely because the U.S. aspires to a leadership role in a shared world that it behooves us to be among the first to act. Blunt, was more than willing to go along unquestioningly with the assertion that the U.S. should, as a world leader, bring “freedom” to the Middle East. Why then is he opposed to exercising U.S. leadership to combat potentially catastrophic climate change? What reason could he possibly have – apart from the fact that he might suffer personally if he supports anything that threatens the profits of his big oil paramour.