In politics, the line between reality and fantasy is often hard to decipher. The recent ruling by a Nebraska court regarding the Keystone XL pipeline offers another example of this situation.
The ruling voided a law the Nebraska Legislature had enacted that approved the pipeline. This means more legal action will soon follow and the decision on the pipeline will be delay by several months. This is also another occasion for conservatives to talk up the benefits of the project.
The first argument they make is that the Keystone pipeline creates jobs. Data shows that the construction will create thousands of temporary jobs but, in the end, the pipeline will only create 35 long term jobs. It should be noted that during the debate over the 2009 stimulus package Republicans were not in favor of creating what they called “menial and temporary” jobs.
The second claim they like to make is that the Keystone pipeline will reduce gas prices. Unfortunately, even the company arguing for the project was only willing to say that the pipeline “could” reduce prices. The reality is that standard free market principles still apply. So while much of this oil will be sold outside of the U.S., the portion that does remain within our borders will be subject to global oil pricing. In order for the new pipeline to actually lower prices, it would have to generate a significant additional supply which lowers the demand. Given that this project will only produce at maximum 830,000 barrels per day or less than 1% of the daily world total a noticeable drop seems unlikely.
Finally, they claim that the Keystone pipeline will lead to energy independence for the U.S.
Outside of the fact that much of this oil will not be used domestically, the U.S. is already on the way to energy independence thanks to lower usage rates and a boom in production for domestic energy sources. In fact, under President Barack Obama, the U.S. is on pace to produce record-setting amounts of domestic crude.
Of course the Keystone pipeline isn’t the only topic that conservatives debate from within their political bubble.
The head of the National Rifle Association stated, and many conservatives believe, that the president wants to take away your guns rights, even though the only legislation he has signed regarding guns have actually expanded gun rights.
And even though the stock market hit record highs, companies are making record profits, the top 1% is taking home more money than ever, and corporations are sitting on record amounts of cash Republican insist that Obama is “anti business.”
Republicans also insist that government spending is out of control under Obama, even though once you account for inflation and population change federal expenditures have fallen more during his presidency than any other president over the past four decades. Yes, including Ronald Reagan.
The reality is that voters can chastise Congress and the president for failing to accomplish anything, but as our system is currently configured there is absolutely no reason for politicians to change their tactics — unless the electorate stops accepting fiction as fact.