Keystone XL as the GOP’s Only Jobs Program

According to political legend, Bobby Kennedy was campaigning in Nebraska in 1968 when a tiny scrap of paper blew off his podium. “That’s my farm program,” he quipped. “Give it back to me instantly.” Nebraska farmers laughed and laughed, and he won the primary there.

In an interesting piece on the Keystone XL Pipeline today, Jonathan Chait argues that the project is the closest thing Republicans have to a jobs program. It’s not much of one, to be sure, but it’s tangible, unlike the Rube-Goldberg-Machine staples of conservative policy such as cutting rich people’s taxes and poor people’s benefits. So they’re perfectly happy keeping it in limbo, and won’t cut any deals with Obama to get it done (which some have speculated is the president’s tactic).

Republicans need to have a jobs plan. They’re much better off blaming Obama for standing in the way of the huge number of construction jobs that would be made available to hardworking Americans being blocked by the left-wing environmental agenda than they are taking credit for the pipeline. Republicans don’t like cutting deals with Obama even when he offers them something they want. In this case, the trade value of Keystone is negative. Which is to say, Republicans aren’t going to give him squat.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.