Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill that would, among other things, open the door for the creation of thousands of new jobs, prevent a tax hike on American workers, and help reduce the crippling deficit. However, President Barack Obama has promised that he would bring the legislation to a halt with a veto—all because of his opposition the single measure in the bill that would create jobs.
What’s so offensive that would cause the President to level a veto threat? A provision in H.R. 3630, the “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011,” that would provide for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project that would bring oil from Canada. Heritage’s Nicolas Loris explains that it would mean “access to easy imports from our northern neighbor, the creation of thousands of jobs, and the generation of revenue for the states where the pipeline passes. Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas are collectively projected to collect $5.2 billion in property tax revenue as a result of building the pipeline.”
The Keystone XL measure is just one piece of the bill introduced by Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), along with several cosponsors. Though not perfect, it includes some positive measures that could bring comfort to the millions of Americans who are struggling under the Obama economy and are looking for hope this holiday season. Camp said of the bill, “With its passage, Americans can be confident that these programs and provisions will be available next year, that they will not result in decades of debt and that they will be paid for with fiscally responsible reforms, not job-killing tax hikes.”
Heritage Vice President David S. Addington has analyzed the legislation and explains that it would:
- Extend for a year the employee payroll tax reduction, which “prevents a tax hike, leaving more of the people’s hard-earned money in their own pockets, and therefore does not give rise to a budgetary need to ‘pay for’ money that is simply left where it originates”;
- Extend the unemployment compensation program, but with appropriate reforms to help the unemployed find jobs and to begin to tailor the overall program to changes in the economy;
- Extend for two years the forestalling of sudden automatic cuts in Medicare payments to physicians that would otherwise occur under the law (often called the “doc fix”);
- Extend for a year the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, one of the 70 federal welfare programs in need of integrated reform;
- Take some actions to reduce the increase in the federal deficit, with fees on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, additional means tests to Medicare, increasing the amount federal employees and Members of Congress must pay in to their retirement plans, and eliminating 2013 cost-of-living adjustments for federal employees and Members of Congress.
Last week, President Obama announced his intention to veto the bill when he warned, ”Any effort to try to tie Keystone to the payroll tax cut I will reject.” To be perfectly clear, the only part of this bill that will significantly create jobs is the only part President Obama is threatening to veto. And this at a time when 13.3 million Americans are out of work, the unemployment rate is hovering near 9 percent as it has throughout this Presidency, and job creation is at a record low.
President Obama does not appear interested in taking real action to put Americans back to work. In an interview with 60 Minutes, the President revealed to CBS’s Steve Kroft what he believes his role to be:
It is my job to put forward a vision of the country that benefits the vast majority of Americans. It is my job to make sure that my party is behind those initiatives, even if sometimes it’s breaking some china and going against some of the dogmas of our party in the past. We’ve done that on things like education reform. And it’s my job to rally the American people around that vision.
Americans, though, aren’t looking for a rally, and they’re not seeking out a vision—especially if it’s one where the economy continues its meandering path, job creation stays stagnant, and Washington keeps erecting walls to prosperity.