Last night, Larry Kudlow of CNBC interviewed union leaders Brent Booker of the Construction Department Laborers’ International Union of North America and David Barnett from the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters. The topic was the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would create an enormous number of jobs for these two unions.
Booker wasn’t quite ready to agree with Kudlow’s assertion that President Obama was “turning his back” on the labor constituency, but he did profess himself to be “disappointed” that the President was “delaying his decision on the pipeline.”
“We’ve been supportive of this project for several years now,” noted Booker. “Our members, construction workers, and middle-class Americans are in desperate need of jobs, and we think that this project could create those for us.”
“We do need this pipeline,” Barnett agreed, clearly conscious that a whole lot of pipe fitting would be involved, while unemployment is currently running at 20-25% in that sector – among the most dire straits he can remember. “We’ve worked very hard in the last three years to get this permit for this pipeline.” He noted the extremely high environmental standards the project will meet, and how much America needs both the jobs and oil.
“You know, the American people are the ones who are going to jump-start this economy, and that’s the argument that I don’t think people are understanding,” Barnett astutely noted. Oh, rest assured, the President understands all that. He just doesn’t care. Remember, he was outspokenly willing to torpedo his own sacred “payroll tax cut” – which he claims is integral to job creation, and is in fact one of the only three ideas he has ever advanced for enhanced job creation – just to stop this pipeline project.
Obama’s other two job-creating ideas are extended unemployment benefits and infrastructure spending. “Infrastructure” is an ancient Greek word meaning “huge construction project.” Trans-continental pipelines, for example.
The President’s ideologically and politically motivated indecision could do a lot more than simply “delay” the pipeline, which Canada could route in other directions, if America doesn’t want it. Booker correctly fears such an outcome. “We already know [the Canadians] have got plans to ship the pipeline, ship the oil west, more than likely to Asian markets,” he said. “Asian markets” is an ancient Greek phrase meaning “China.”
“Quite frankly, the American people are tired of Washington D.C. politics going on, and their jobs are waiting in line for these decisions,” said Barnett at the conclusion of this remarkably candid interview. He declared himself a big believer in “green energy,” but is nevertheless realistic in his understanding that “we need oil today to drive this nation.” Perhaps the looming demise of the Keystone XL project will convince him that he, and the members of his union - along with the rest of job-starved America - are indeed looking at Barack Obama’s back.