It’s not hard to see why Republicans do so well on Twitter: in a forum that limits debate to 140 characters, there’s no room for principled disagreement, shades of grey, or arguments backed up by facts. It’s the perfect environment for unsubstantiated talking points like, “drill baby drill!”, “Where’s the birth certificate?”, and the Republican House majority’s job creation “strategy,” which apparently fits in a hash tag: #forgotten15, a reference to 15 “job creating” bills passed by the Republican House, but stalled out by the Democratic Senate.
Terrifying, isn’t it?! Why wouldn’t the Democrats pass job-creating legislation!? Well, let’s find out. Here, a review of the bills Eric Cantor gladly tags as job-creators, through an increasingly creative bill-naming process:
- Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (HR 872): substantially deregulates the use of insecticides in farming, by expanding those situations where a permit for the insecticide’s use is not required.
- Energy Tax Prevention Act (HR 910): bars the EPA from taking into account “climate change” when restricting the emissions of acknowledged greenhouse gases like sulfur hexaflouride, hydroflourocarbons (like freon), and carcinogenic/poisonous perflourocarbons.
- Disapproval of FCC’s Net Neutrality Regulations (HJ Res 37): just like it says, this nonbinding resolution would express Congress’ “disapproval” of proposed FCC rules banning corporations from charging disproportionately for certain types of internet access. Conservatives like to conflate net neutrality with the discredited Fairness Doctrine — because they kinda sound alike — but “net neutrality” means neither the government nor corporations could charge for internet use based on type or amount of access. Why conservative voters want a world where they’ll pay more for internet access, I’ll never know; but for conservative lawmakers, it’s a clear play for donations from the telecomm companies that stand to benefit from being able to charge higher rates.
- Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act (HR 2018): lets states submit compliance plans to the EPA, but without any real guidance. So, under this bill, a state could functionally deregulate water pollution, and the EPA would be forced to sign off — which is precisely what would, and does happen. Energy companies are tragically and phenomenally successful at fracturing public opinion about whether and how to sell off their land for a quick buck.
- Consumer Financial Protection & Soundness Improvement Act (HR 1315): defangs the Consumer Protection Bureau; changes the systemic oversight council’s mission from protecting “the safety and soundness of the United States banking system” and “the stability of the financial system of the United States” to “the safe and sound operations of United States financial institutions”… seriously. I could not make this up. And in keeping with radical pro-business, anti-family thinking, in a move supported by the Heritage Foundation, this “Consumer Financial Protection” act ends the Federal Housing Administration’s underwater mortgage buyout program, meaning, quite simply, that more Americans will lose their homes.
- Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act (HR 2587): terminates the NLRB’s authority to order that an employer “restore or reinstate any work, product, production line, or equipment” or “rescind any relocation, transfer, subcontracting, outsourcing” initiative. The bill targets one of the far-right’s new pet causes — an NLRB action that seeks to block Boeing from moving an airline construction plant from a union state, to union-free South Carolina, as possible retribution for previous union bargaining initiatives. Query whether the bill would save jobs, or simply move them to more business-friendly states.
- Transparency In Regulatory Analysis Of Impacts On The Nation (HR 2401): orders the President (?) to establish a committee reviewing the “feasibility” of clean air standards. Note the constitutional issue, that the Act doesn’t actually do anything, and in contravention of Republican Rule #1, it spends $3,000,000 just to constitute the Committee.
- Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act (HR 2681): stays EPA rules applicable only to a specific group of cement producers, and directs the EPA to issue more favorable rules, and cuts back the definition of the term “solid waste.”
- EPA Regulatory Relief Act (HR 2250): stays existing EPA regulations, and orders the agency to re-promulgate rules that “can be met under actual operating conditions.” In other words, without any change to industry practice.
- Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (HR 2273): devolves the regulation of “coal combustion residuals,” responsible for a devastating industrial accident in Kingston Valley, Tennessee, to the states.
- Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act (HR 1230) [not yet reported to the Senate]: directs the EPA to approve four specified offshore drilling leases, by name, and deems them environmentally sound for EPA purposes.
- Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act (HR 1229): extends some offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico, while severely limiting private rights of action challenging agency decisions to grant leases. Under HR 1229, challenges could be filed only within 60 days of agency action, heard only within the Fifth Circuit (despite or, presumably, because of their conflict-of-interest problem), and resolved in the agency’s favor based only on the agency’s record, without the benefit of extrinsic evidence. Presumably, these limitations look forward to a future Republican presidential administration, and a Republican EPA willing to grant any license requested.
- Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act (HR 1231): directs the EPA to lease 50% of all available drilling locations in the Gulf of Mexico, and set an aggressive production schedule.
- Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011 (HR 2021): neuters all EPA rules related to the Clean Air Act would apply to offshore drilling operations, and provides that environmental impact will be measured at shore. So, to Hell with the Gulf of Mexico, I guess.
- North American-Made Energy Security Act (HR 1938): expedites approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — a Koch brothers project that’s likely unnecessary, expands our dependence on dirty and foreign energy sources, would create tens of thousands of dirty-energy jobs but only at the expense of millions of clean-energy jobs, and risks catastrophic spills over vital interstate aquifers, a real risk considering repeated spills in the Trans-Alaskan system.
This isn’t a job-creation strategy; it’s a love letter to hazardous industry, and the same radical deregulation strategy, calling for a return to the turn-of-the-century working conditions, that’s been rejected by the voters time and time again. Only now, the House majority’s repackaged each individual sell-out as “job creating,” relying on the shaky major premise that deregulation of finance and heavy industry goes hand-in-hand with job creation. Perhaps that idea holds together for bills #11-14 — in some cases, we will have to decide between long-term environmental health and short-term job creation — but it’s tough to see how letting corporations charge differential, higher rates for internet access (#3), or move jobs away from union states and into non-union states (#6), results in any net addition to the workforce.
I understand we may not believe in Keynes anymore — even though we hardly gave him a chance this time around. But it’s telling, isn’t it, that Republicans offer nothing in the way of an alternative model. Instead, we’re expected to fall for the stimulus bill’s evil twin: rather than invest in our future with aggressive, government-funded public works, we’ll sell our health and our heritage to private corporations, trusting that they’ll deal with us fairly, and that an increase in their bottom line will translate to more than a handful of transient, unskilled, low-paying, dangerous jobs in heavy industry. Has this ever worked before?