In case you'd forgotten -- perhaps thanks to this fiasco sucking up political oxygen last week -- President Obama has taken the dramatic, out-of-the-mainstream step of vetoing Congress' overwhelming and bipartisan approval of the Keystone Pipeline. All told, 332 members of Congress voted to green light the job-creating infrastructure project, including dozens of Democrats. Keystone has the strong backing of our Canadian allies, would help North American energy production, has passed environmental and legal muster over years of study, and would cost taxpayers nothing. Approving the pipeline merely involves getting government out of the way, and letting the private sector take things from there. It's a political and policy no-brainer, which is why it consistently attracts lopsided support from the American people in public polling. But the president has an extreme agenda to protect, and self-interested "green" billionaire donors and special interests to reward. So he wielded his veto pen, laughably citing separation of powers concerns as a pretext to nix the plan. This from a man who's unilaterally rewriting immigration laws without Congressional input, and who's apparently eyeing similar power grabs in order to raise taxes on his own. In an effort to justify his extreme veto, Obama is relying on dishonest arguments, eliciting a 'Four Pinocchios' ruling from the Washington Post's fact-checker:
President Obama, seeking to explain his veto of a bill that would have leapfrogged the approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline, in an interview with a North Dakota station repeated some false claims that had previously earned him Pinocchios. Yet he managed to make his statement even more misleading than before, suggesting the pipeline would have no benefit for American producers at all...The president’s latest remarks pushes this assertion into the Four Pinocchios column. If he disagrees with the State Department’s findings, he should begin to make the case why it is wrong, rather than assert the opposite, without any factual basis. Moreover, by telling North Dakota listeners that the pipeline has no benefit for Americans, he is again being misleading, given that producers in the region have signed contracts to transport some of their production through the pipeline.
The Post notes that Keystone pipeline absolutely would benefit American producers and consumers, despite the president's factually inaccurate insistence that it "bypasses" the US completely. The fact-checker quotes an independent study, which happens to be reinforced by the Obama State Department's own findings on the matter. Obama "appears to be purposely ignoring the findings of the lead Cabinet agency on the issue," the piece concludes. That's because the evidence -- the "science" -- doesn't comport with Obama's political agenda, so he's simply ignoring it, and celebrating his intentional ignorance in public pronouncements. USA Today's editorial board is joining many others in urging Congress to override the president's veto:
Obama has sent conflicting signals about whether he'll ultimately approve or reject Keystone. Last November, he gave pipeline critics hope by buying into the argument that the oil Keystone would deliver to U.S. refineries will simply be exported, rather than be used domestically. Politifact.com rated that claim "mostly false," and The Washington Post's Fact Checker gave it three out of four Pinocchios for inaccuracy, noting that the best evidence is that "at least half" the oil would remain here. Congress ought to end this drama by overriding Obama's veto, just the third of his presidency and his first since 2010. If the votes can't be mustered on Capitol Hill, the president has more than enough information to bring down the curtain. It is long past time to just say yes.
Saying "yes" to a privately-funded, job-creating, environmentally-sound infrastructure project shouldn't be difficult for a president who pays much lip service to "getting things done," and demanding "bipartisanship." But it's a problem for Obama because he's a hardened ideologue. His pragmatism persona is, and has always been, a fraud. Incidentally, you may have noticed that the above USA Today house editorial mentions WaPo's previous 'Three Pinocchios' assessment, which has since been upped due to bonus presidential mendacity. The Post also points out that Obama sneers at the several hundred permanent jobs Keystone would create, effectively dismissing tens of thousands of construction jobs as a non-factor in the cost/benefit analysis. Most Americans don't believe our leaders are in aposition to turn up their noses at any jobs in the midst of a tepid and frustrating economic recovery. Senate Democrats, for their part, are bizarrely planning to filibuster Mitch McConnell's effort to proceed to a veto-override vote. Superseding the president's veto requires 67 votes -- seven more than the filibuster threshold. Why launch a doomed filibuster against something that will almost certainly fail anyway? Perhaps because Reid and company have quickly become the very nihilistic obstructionists they've so often accused Republicans of being in recent years. Proponents of the Keystone Pipeline appear to be four votes shy of overcoming Obama's veto in the US Senate. I'll leave you with Majority Leader McConnell marveling at the idiocy of Reid's redundant, pointless filibuster plot: