On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Republican strategist and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist butted heads with his fellow panelists after claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency was instrumental in slowing down the American economic recovery. Met with loud disagreement, Norquist pushed on to say that President Obama has prevented job growth by not allowing the Keystone Pipeline to be built.
Norquist told his fellow panelists, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee, that there was no job creation “from the bottom of [the] recession,” but that building Keystone would create a significant number of jobs. He used that reasoning to explain Obama’s drop in approval rating, but Brazile responded sharply, telling Norquist that an unfocused Congress has caused major obstruction:
BRAZILE: The American people… want jobs, They want the Congress to focus not just on keeping their jobs and winning the next election, but also providing jobs for the American people. That’s what those [approval] numbers reflect. […]
NORQUIST: If you look at the economy, the President is not delivering. Certainly the Republicans have passed a series of pieces of legislation that Boehner keeps referencing that would allow jobs to be built, such as the pipeline down through Nebraska that the President is killing. There are quite a number of similar energy positions, energy projects that the president’s EPA and others have killed with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost as a result. If we had job creation from the bottom of his recession, which is June — July of ’09, the way we did from the bottom of Reagan’s recession, we’d have several million more jobs today than we do now. We have a lousy economy.
ELLIETHEE: I just have to disagree. You want to call it a good economy? It’s an improving economy and by zero measure, zero measure can you say anything otherwise.
Norquist is wrong on virtually every count.
First, an analysis from Obama’s State Department found that the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to create 35 permanent jobs. A more generous estimate from Cornell University pegs that number at 50 — hardly enough to compensate for the hundreds of thousands of positions lost during the Great Recession. And that handful of jobs comes at a major cost. Environmentally, the pipeline would emit as much carbon as 51 coal-fired power plants. Keystone XL isn’t expected to have any long-term economic benefit, though it could raise gas prices.
Second, Norquist is taking on the debunked talking point of Rep. Michele Bachmann who once termed the EPA the “Job-Killing Organization of America.” But analysis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually found that, in 2010, a whopping 0.3 percent of job losses were on account of government regulation. Indeed, certain regulation from the EPA — including a recent push to regulate mercury and carbon — could actually create jobs. One study anticipated 250,000 jobs from maintenance and update jobs related to the new regulation.
Finally, Norquist is incorrect to say that Obama didn’t create jobs at the “bottom” of the recession. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 actually boosted job creation significantly, creating an estimated 2.5 to 3.6 million jobs. And, in a twist of fate that must be hard for Norquist, many of those jobs, in fact, were in clean energy.