I’m not sure how else to describe this statement from “the smartest man in the room” concerning the Keystone XL pipeline and unemployment benefits:
As Obama called for passage of those bills, he also responded to a recent Republican push to require him to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. "However many jobs might be generated by a Keystone pipeline," he said, "they’re going to be a lot fewer than the jobs that are created by extending the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment insurance."
It’s rather hard to even imagine someone thinking that’s true. Yet here’s the guy who is supposed to be making jobs his focus and economic recovery his priority and he thinks he’s doing his job by trying to get unemployment insurance extended? He believes that the extension of the payroll tax cut is job creator? Note the word – create, as in what Obama said. While it certainly can be argued that on some level it might save a few jobs, if there were any to be created from its extension, they’ve most likely already been created.
The Keystone XL pipeline on the other hand, will create thousands and thousands of jobs.
TransCanada is poised to put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline – pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs – in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs that would be created across the U.S. Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local goods and service providers.
Of course, besides the pure economic ignorance displayed by the statement, Mr. Obama offers nothing in terms of numbers to back his claim. It’s another in a long line of claims made recently that just aren’t true.
Apparently, when in trouble politically, the “go to” issue for Democrats is class warfare. It is time to demonize and divide instead of being statesmen and providing positive solutions, because positive solutions and bipartisan politics is hard, right?
That’s precisely the road President Obama has chosen to take. It was either that or run on his abysmal record during his term in office. So, instead he’s decided to go the old route of many on the left when it is necessary to distract from their record – class warfare. Pit Americans against Americans. Play the egalitarian card and claim that those who’ve done better than others are the problem.
In a speech yesterday of about 30 minutes, he expounded on this theme:
But this isn’t just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make or break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.
Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that have stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for too many years. Their philosophy is simple: we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.
Lets talk about policies and jobs, shall we?
If anyone is suffering from amnesia the man on the podium is. It is his administration which as made concerted war on the job creators while trying to create a atmosphere that would shame them and turn other Americans against them. The perfect example of this is to be found in the energy sector where Obama administration policies have blocked oil and gas exploration and production at every turn, killed jobs and prevented those who want to from earning “enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.” Just ask workers along the Gulf Coast. But he will push the extension of unemployment benefits.
Their policies have also picked winners and losers – such as Solyndra – and, unsurprisingly, their winners have been losers.
This is a president who did nothing for the “middle class” for the two years he had a majority Democratic Congress except work on a horrendous health care bill which, if fully implemented, will be the ruin of the country. His legacy was more important than the middle class.
Now he’s their champion, falsely accusing those who pay the majority of the income taxes in this country of being the problem.
Anyone with an ounce of sense and even a passing understanding of economics understands that income isn’t a zero sum game and regardless of how much someone else earns or what the income gap is between top and bottom earners in this society, there is nothing standing in the way of an aggressive, well prepared and hard working person moving from one group to the other.
But the crux of the Obama argument is that the high income earners are the problem and that it is government’s job to punish them (via punitive taxation) for daring to do as well as they have. It is his contention that their success has come at the expense of the middle class. It is also an implied panacea for all our ills. Hit them with prohibitive taxes and everything will be wonderful, the moon ponies will again fly, unicorns will graze in your backyard and all the ills of the middle class will be gone forever.
This is a calculated campaign designed to appeal to the emotions and to distract from the real issue – the abject failure of this man to lead and to be a statesman and the total failure of the policies he’s pushed to make any discernable difference. It is his own record he’s running from and it is the oldest political trick in the world to which he turns to do that.
This upcoming election isn’t about income gaps, the 1% and the middle class. It is about a failed president and his abysmal record. It is about the fact that he has accomplished little of worth and is a divisive president. Instead of being the uniter he promised to be, he’s been a divider from day one.
The defining issue of our time isn’t the middle class. In fact, if government would simply get out of the way in most cases, the middle class would find its advancement eased considerably.
The defining issue of our time is the role of government and whether or not we’re willing to let it continue its expanding intrusion and kill our country. That’s what he’d prefer not be discussed. Because if it is, he loses.
So let’s change the subject to that which is appropriate – what he has done in the past 3 years to positively advance the cause of America.
I think you’ll find the answer to that to be pretty much nothing.
Aw, Bunkie doesn’t like his job? The smartest guy in the room?
You know I think back to all the times in the past three years I’ve pointed out the man has little if any leadership skills and now, it seems, even liberals are having to admit it, even if obliquely and wrapped in spin. Check out this transcript on Morning Joe with Tina Brown:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Tina, what has happened to this president, the president from hope and change? What has happened?
TINA BROWN: Well it’s so interesting. I think that Obama doesn’t like his job, actually. I think that he is genuinely of a professional disposition in the sense that I think that he’s interested in chewing over the pros and cons, and he doesn’t like, he doesn’t like power and he doesn’t know how to exercise power. And I think knowing how to exercise power is absolutely crucial. He doesn’t understand how to underpin his ideas with the political gritty, granular business of getting it done. And that kind of gap has just widened and widened and widened. And so that every time there is a moment, a window where he can jump in, like something like a Simpson-Bowles as well, he just doesn’t do it. He hangs back at crucial moments when you have to dive through that window.
SCARBOROUGH: And regardless of your ideology, it is very safe to say, I think most people would agree: LBJ he is not, Bill Clinton, he is not, when it just comes to understanding how to make Washington work.
MIKE BARNICLE: It appears off of what Tina just said, you just said, it appears that you could make a case that Barack Obama doesn’t like politics. [emphasis mine]
He doesn’t like power? Nonsense. As Ace says, this is just a way of spinning failure. It is an apologia. He loves power. He thought this was all about power. All he had to do was win and have his way. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Oval Office. He found out he had to lead to wield his power and he hasn’t a clue about what that entails. You see, he never thought he’d have to actually do the “political gritty, granular business of getting it done” … i.e. lead. He’d just wave his hand and demand it be done.
Just check his reliance on executive orders and executive branch agencies to see how he’d prefer to do business. Dictate.
And this claim just floored me:
He doesn’t understand how to underpin his ideas with the political gritty, granular business of getting it done.
State Senator and US Senator and he doesn’t understand the basic nature of politics today, the process and what it requires? And he’s the smartest guy in the room? That’s just absurd. He knows full well what it takes, he just doesn’t want to have to do it.
As the discussion continues, Tina Brown agrees with Mike Barnicle’s claim that Obama just doesn’t like politics:
BROWN: Right. I absolutely feel that.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well who would today? I mean, I think it’s great that –
SCARBOROUGH: Oh come on. If you don’t like medicine, don’t be a doctor. If you don’t like politics, don’t put yourself out there to run the free world, Mika.
BRZEZINSKI: You know what? Politics today need to be changed.
SCARBOROUGH: Stop the apologizing!
BRZEZINSKI: I’m not apologizing.
SCARBOROUGH: You’re apologizing. [Sarcastically imitates Mika's voice] Who would like politics today? You know what?
BRZEZINSKI: Who would?
SCARBOROUGH: He is running the free world. He better know a lot of people love politics. Bill Clinton loves politics. FDR loved politics. Ronald Reagan loved politics. Great leaders love what they do. So who would love politics?
BROWN: Isn’t it really also about, well the other word for politics is just doing what it takes to get it done. Like, one of the things that’s interesting about Obama is that he kind of, and I think he does believe in this, that his idea of being a transformative figure who can cross many persuasions and orientations and aisles. And yet when it is actually taken to reaching out and really bringing that in, and trying, I don’t think that it really –
SCARBOROUGH: He doesn’t do that.
If he doesn’t like politics, why did he run? If the first word that springs to your mind is narcissism, I think you’re on to something. As many have already noted, to include authors on this blog, he took over in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and what did he do? He immediately began working on his legacy – healthcare. He waved away what was important and concentrated on legislation and the politics it took by the way, to get it passed. Meanwhile, the real crisis was ignored. For two years he had a Democratic Congress and he did nothing to address jobs or anything else economic.
Brown would like to spin his narcissism as his belief that he’s a “transformative figure” who just can’t be bothered with doing the mundane stuff necessary to get things done. Again, and once more for the slow among us, ObamaCare. It gives lie to the premise. His problem isn’t that he doesn’t like politics, it’s that other than jamming through his health care fiasco, he’s been a failure.
His withdrawal now, spun as “staying above it all”, is because he’s never been an obvious failure in his entire life. Remember this is the guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize without ever doing a single thing but winning a presidential election. And he took it as his due.
Obama’s biggest problem is he thinks he’s smarter than he is and he had a misconception, for whatever reason (for, you know, such a smart guy) of the role and demands of the presidency. Apparently the unicorns and moon ponies deserted him, he found out it is damned hard work that demands a competent leader and for the first time in his life, everyone wasn’t praising every little thing he did. In fact, instead his shortcomings were being headlined. And he has plenty of them. Additionally, he’s now forced to actually run on a record of accomplishment if he wants to be reelected. Of course, that’s slim to nonexistent.
No, he and his apologists are beginning to understand that they’re going to have to spin everything – everything – to try to make him the attractive candidate he was in 2008. He’s really not cooperating which is what prompts people like Tina Brown to begin spinning like she does. Its fairly obvious that even the liberal elite are having problems dealing with his failure and are in full “explain it away” mode.
Unfortunately, Obama has finally bumped up against “hard America” after spending most of his life in “soft America”. Soft America is where everything done is touted and worshiped as wonderful and performance really doesn’t matter as much as just showing up.
Hard America demands performance and accomplishment. He has precious few to show for his time in office and plenty of failure. Its not that he doesn’t like politics or power. Its that he is inept at both and is just now discovering that for himself. Reaction? Pull back. He’s never “failed” before and doesn’t really know how to handle it.
And thus we have our present situation … a president who refuses to lead, tries to stay aloof and is seen to be withdrawing from his duties.
Gee, sure wish I could have seen that coming.
Oh, wait …
Have you been following the latest gambit of our president? It’s time to pull the youth vote back to him with some candy. Taxpayer candy of course. In his latest “policy” swing, he’s offering a way out of student loans to … students with loans, of course.
And of course there’s the convenient lie – you can essentially get something for next to nothing. Go borrow money and the government will help you “satisfy” the loan after so many years if you do things like “public service”. Oh, and it will never cost you more than 10% of your salary … so go for it.
Wait, one more thing from the Candy Man as he addressed a crowd of college students at the University of Colorado’s Denver campus:
But, he added, “young guys, I need you involved, I need you active … I need you to get the word out.”
Of course that’s code for “hey, vote for me and I’ll solve all your student loan problems”. Cronyism at its finest and all without legislation. Wasn’t it the Democrats who said they feared the “executive President”. But I digress.
Here’s the basic truth:
But the colleges fees have to be paid somehow, even when repayments are stopped, said Burke. Sooner or later, this “will ultimately result in tax increases — in putting this on the backs of three-quarters of Americans who did not graduate from college.”
Working-class people will end up paying for middle-class graduates’ basket-weaving and women’s studies degrees, she said.
That’s right … these are government guaranteed loans. So they will be paid. The creditor doesn’t care who pays it. The student or the taxpayer. So what Obama is more than willing to do is to buy votes today, by executive order, for taxpayer bailouts of deadbeat students tomorrow.
Obama is “shifting the burden of paying for college to all of those Americans who did not graduate from college — the waitresses, construction workers, mechanics — and that should infuriate the taxpayers who worked hard to pay off their loans, who decided to live a modest lifestyle to pay off their loans,” said Lindsey Burke, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
Obama’s policy is also widening the class division between working-class Americans and those with college credentials, said Matthew Denhart, a researcher at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington, D.C.
In case you were wondering, Colorado is a swing state and one in which polls show the Candy Man below 50%.
Crony Capitalism isn’t the only form of cronyism in the world as Barack Obama (and politicians of all stripes) have been proving for years. And all funded by your money.
Read this lead sentence and weep for this country:
At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.
A “painful era of self-reliance”? Self-reliance is a negative thing? Well yes if your ideal is a social welfare state. The trait that helped build this country into a great nation is now a negative according to Barack Obama:
“The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own,’” Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel.
Oh, man … that would just be terrible.
You mean I’d have to take care of myself? I’d have to do what is necessary to ensure I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in the pantry?
You mean I wouldn’t have to put up with intrusive regulation and government involvement and control in every aspect of my life?
Please, say it ain’t so.
Would I be treated to a government that took less of my money in taxes because it was smaller, less intrusive and costs less?
Whatever happened to American pride in self-reliance for heaven sake? Whatever happened to those who sought this place out because it was peopled with the self-reliant? Now the possibility of having to be self reliant is to be feared? Now only government can “save” you from having to be “on your own”?
What a pitiful mess this place has become.
That’s the consensus in an interesting poll just published:
More than two-thirds of voters say the United States is declining, and a clear majority think the next generation will be worse off than this one, according to the results of a new poll commissioned by The Hill.
A resounding 69 percent of respondents said the country is “in decline,” the survey found, while 57 percent predict today’s kids won’t live better lives than their parents. Additionally, 83 percent of voters indicated they’re either very or somewhat worried about the future of the nation, with 49 percent saying they’re “very worried.”
The results suggest that Americans don’t view the country’s current economic and political troubles as temporary, but instead see them continuing for many years.
My father used to tell me “you live between your ears” meaning attitude and outlook are yours to control and play a critical part in life.
Attitude and outlook are also critical in any sort of economic recovery. If the attitude is pessimistic and the outlook deemed as dismal, it sometimes becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I remember back in the days of the Jimmy Carter presidency, the “malaise” that settled in on the country. People felt everything was out of control. Interest rates were through the roof, we were seen as a paper tiger in the world and whatever else Jimmy Carter might be, he wasn’t much of a leader. Everyone then thought America was in decline then too.
But then Ronald Reagan came along, took charge, changed the attitude and outlook of Americans and, well, the rest is literally history.
One of the key jobs of a President of the United States is to address the country’s outlook and attitude. It is a very important aspect of leadership. It is also critical to recovery from economic problems, unemployment and other ills that are besetting our country. It is about setting up the proper climate to make attitudes swing to the positive side and the outlook appear rosier.
One of the things I’ve said consistently since Barack Obama has taken office is he’s not (nor has he ever been) a leader. That’s actually no surprise to me because I understand what leadership requires. In a word, development. The great leaders of today, with very few exceptions, worked their way up to their ultimate leadership job through a series of lesser leadership jobs.
I use military examples because they’re familiar to me, but no division commander ever took that job that hadn’t first been a platoon leader, then company commander, battalion commander and brigade commander.
And even then, some division commanders are better than others. But regardless, their leadership skills have been developed and honed by successive leadership positions of increased size and responsibility. And the weak leaders have been cast aside in that process.
We’ve elected a man who hasn’t even had a platoon, if you get my drift. And now we’re asking him to lead (well, in reality, we ask him to lead 3 years ago) in a very difficult time.
This poll indicates how well he’s doing.
In any school in the land, his grade in leadership would be “F”.
Is America in decline? Under this president the answer is “yes”. Does it have to remain in decline? No. But to change that, the first step is voting the present occupant of the White House out of office. The good news is we all know what happened to Jimmy Carter.
The Weekly Standard tells us:
In an interview that will be aired tonight on ABC News, President Obama continues to express his commitment to the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
“The most important thing we can do right now is those of us in leadership letting people know that we understand their struggles and we are on their side, and that we want to set up a system in which hard work, responsibility, doing what you’re supposed to do, is rewarded,” Obama tells ABC News. “And that people who are irresponsible, who are reckless, who don’t feel a sense of obligation to their communities and their companies and their workers that those folks aren’t rewarded.”
The president also compares the protesters to the Tea Party. “In some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party," Obama says.
Really? Not that different?
In Cleveland they’re investigating a kidnapping and rape at OWS there.
In Atlanta, the OWS protesters stormed a hospital.
An OWS protester in Seattle was arrested for exposing himself to children.
They’re talking about plans to disrupt the World Series.
And thievery is rampant within the OWS camps.
There is evidence of anti-Semitism.
Yup, just like the Tea Party.
The Hill just published a poll of likely voters. The findings pretty much reflect what I’ve believed about the so-called “99%” protest.
Voters are unimpressed and the attempt to deflect attention from Washington to corporate America isn’t, at least to this point, working:
The Hill poll found that only one in three likely voters blames Wall Street for the country’s financial troubles, whereas more than half — 56 percent — blame Washington.
Moreover, when it comes to the political consequences of the protest, voters tend to believe that there are more perils than positives for Obama and the Democrats.
Of course that’s the double edged sword and the risk the Obama campaign takes trying to embrace this (while also attempting to keep some distance) supposed grass roots movement.
And, as the more radical groups attempt to join as well (see this photo essay for an example), the folks in flyover country are going to get even more turned off.
Personal observation, but it just seems to me the radical left just hasn’t had much to protest about since Bush left office. The anti-war movement (of which most of these groups showing up for OWS were a part) melted away when Obama took office. He even started a third war and not a peep.
There will obviously be those who try to compare this to the Tea Party movement, but those comparisons will fall flat. This is just the left looking for an excuse for the usual suspects to do what they do best – protest. And, despite all the effort by the media to paint the OWS as something other than that is only going to prove the voters are a bit more sophisticated than the spin artists believe.
This poll points out that while OWS has indeed built notoriety, it may not be the sort of notoriety that a politician would want to embrace. Likely voters in the poll said it may not end up being a positive for those who latch on.
Watch carefully as this develops. Prepare for the old “rats deserting a sinking ship” rush when it starts to go south.
And it will go south.
As mentioned yesterday, incumbent presidents usually have an advantage. But that advantage depends on a few things such as performance, leadership and to a degree, circumstance. For Barack Obama he’s come up 0-3 in those areas. And the polls consistently show his numbers trending down in just about every imaginable way.
I’ve talked about enthusiasm and how important that is to an election. Enthusiasm translates into voters eagerly going to the polls. It makes any Get Out The Vote program a breeze. And usually the side that is most enthusiastic turns out the largest numbers of voters and wins the election. The difference in enthusiasm for each side is called the “enthusiasm gap”. In the last election, the GOP was on the wrong side of that gap. This time, it appears the lack of enthusiasm is on the left is both evident and growing.
That leads us to something else that can doom a campaign. Perception. In the world of politics, perception is reality. How a voter perceives a candidate and his or her chances may decide how he or she votes, or whether they even bother. And one of the polls today essentially measures perception. And in keeping with most of the polls we’ve seen lately, it’s not good news for President Obama:
Just 37 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say they expect Obama to win re-election in November 2012; 55 percent instead expect the eventual Republican nominee to win. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos is asking the president about that result in an interview today.
That sort of perception, for whatever reason, is deadly to a politician’s future. The ABC story talks about enthusiasm and expectations and how those drive GOTV in most cases. Here’s the cherry on top of the sundae though:
Democrats do expect Obama to win, but they say so only by 58-33 percent – a comparatively tepid vote of confidence within his own party. Republicans, by contrast, smell victory by a vast 83-13 percent. And independents – the linchpin of national politics – by 54-36 percent expect the Republican candidate to beat Obama.
Obviously the perception among Republicans is one of victory. Among Democrats, almost resignation to a loss (especially given 2010. But the key demographic, the one I constantly harp on about, perceive Obama as a loser in the next election. And since it is Independents who will decide that, this is decidedly bad news for the Obama campaign. It also makes one wonder why, recently, he’s abandoned his “move to the center” for a more hard left (class warfare) approach. Not smart if you want to woo the center. But then, you also have to fire up your base when you’re in the electoral shape Obama is in.
The other poll falls into the third category I mentioned above – circumstance. I remember saying just prior to the Obama win that I’m not sure, given the economic circumstances the country finds itself in, that I’d want to win that election. Certainly our economic condition has not been favorable for Obama. Not that he’s helped himself at all during his time in office. He has, for the most part, backed exactly the wrong sort of policies and actions when he could even be bothered to address the economy.
The problem for Obama is the voters have notices and deem him to be ineffective as a leader because of the condition of the economy. Right or wrong, that’s the way American politics works. So again, there’s a growing perception of ineffectiveness and ineptness about the economy, which will be the main issue in the upcoming presidential election, that is going hang around Obama’s neck like an albatross.
And that brings us to the second poll of the day:
A new CBS News poll finds that nearly seven in 10 Americans believe President Obama has not made real progress in fixing the economy.
Sixty-nine percent say the president has not made real progress on the economy, which voters overwhelmingly cite as their most important issue. Twenty-five percent say he has made real progress.
Perceptions are not improving. The percentage who said Mr. Obama has made real progress has dropped 10 points from a survey 13 months ago, when 35 percent said he had made real progress.
Just 35 percent of Americans approve of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, and his approval rating on the issue has been below 40 percent since February. Fifty-three percent approve of his handling of the economy.
There’s that word again – perception.
Always wanting to find a silver lining, there’s this:
Still, most don’t blame the administration for the state of the economy. Asked who was most to blame, Americans cited the Bush administration (22 percent), followed by Wall Street (16 percent), Congress (15 percent) and then the Obama administration (12 percent.) One in 10 said "all of the above."
Sorry, in terms of the 2012 election, that’s irrelevant. That won’t drive a single vote to the polling place. Bush isn’t running and the responsibility to turn it around isn’t his. Who is to blame isn’t relevant to who can fix this infernal mess. And thus far the building perception is that Obama isn’t the man.
And perceptions about his leadership have fallen precipitously as well – from a high of 85% in January 2009 to 57% now saying he displays strong leadership qualities (not sure what they think constitute strong leadership qualities, but I’ve never seen anything I’d say qualified as such during his entire presidency). That is even more bad news for his reelection campaign.
So it goes on and on, the downward trends obvious, the news not good. Obama is battling the same sort of perception that Jimmy Carter battled, that of a weak ineffective president. The voting public got rid of Carter, and, if the polls now coming out are to be believed (and trust me, his reelection campaign believe them) Obama is headed down the same electoral road.
In both cases, I think the voting public’s has/had it right.
Harold Hamm, CEO of the country’s 14th largest oil company, Continental Resources, is featured in the WSJ today. He talks about oil, gas and his belief, given what he knows about our reserves, that we could be completely energy independent from OPEC if we’d exploit them.
Or, as the title of the piece says, North Dakota could be the Saudi Arabia of the 21st century. He thinks our technology for recovery of oil and gas is at such a state now that we could economically extract gas and oil that was previously unrecoverable and do it at a very nominal price.
So Mr. Hamm goes to Washington and has a chance to meet President Obama. He has a moment alone with him and tries to get the message across.
When it was Mr. Hamm’s turn to talk briefly with President Obama, "I told him of the revolution in the oil and gas industry and how we have the capacity to produce enough oil to enable America to replace OPEC. I wanted to make sure he knew about this."
The president’s reaction? "He turned to me and said, ‘Oil and gas will be important for the next few years. But we need to go on to green and alternative energy. [Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu has assured me that within five years, we can have a battery developed that will make a car with the equivalent of 130 miles per gallon.’" Mr. Hamm holds his head in his hands and says, "Even if you believed that, why would you want to stop oil and gas development? It was pretty disappointing."
Disappointing? It’s vesting our future in a myth (or at minimum a hope) while ignoring what we have in front of us upon which our economy runs.
With all the excitement over renewable energy, it might be reasonable to assume that fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas will go the way of the steam engine in the next 20 years.
Not so fast, says Daniel Yergin, author and one of the most influential voices in the world of energy.
"There is always the possibility that something big will happen very quickly, but probably not," Yergin said in an interview this week before delivering a lecture at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
"On a worldwide basis, about 80 percent of energy today is oil, gas, and coal. You say, What’s it going to be in 2030? Most studies say somewhere about 75 percent of the bigger pot."
Said another way, we should be doing everything we can at this moment to do two things – increase our oil and gas supplies and create jobs. The oil and gas industry promise an abundance of both.
As for our alternate or green fuels – yeah, maybe some day as Yergin, who has spent years researching them, admits, but not anytime soon:
"I’m convinced there will be major changes," he said. "But given how massive the energy system is, how complex it is, things just don’t happen overnight."
Existing energy systems contain an enormous amount of embedded capital. New technologies have long lead times. Automobile fleets take a decade to turn over. And world energy demand is expected to grow 35 to 40 percent by 2030.
Wind turbines, after decades of development, are only now cost-competitive, he said. Photovoltaic cells, first used in spacecraft in 1958, still require subsidies.
"It’s not a light switch where you can go from one to another," he said.
Precisely. It’s like trying to turn an aircraft carrier around that is going full speed … it not only requires miles and miles of ocean but a lot of time. We’re not going to transition to any alternate or green energy source in the foreseeable future – gas and oil will continue to play a dominant role in our economy. And it is high time we began to earnestly exploit our reserves.
Anyway, back to Harold Hamm. Why is Mr. Hamm so excited about North Dakota? Bakken shale:
How much oil does Bakken have? The official estimate of the U.S. Geological Survey a few years ago was between four and five billion barrels. Mr. Hamm disagrees: "No way. We estimate that the entire field, fully developed, in Bakken is 24 billion barrels."
If he’s right, that’ll double America’s proven oil reserves. "Bakken is almost twice as big as the oil reserve in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska," he continues. According to Department of Energy data, North Dakota is on pace to surpass California in oil production in the next few years. Mr. Hamm explains over lunch in Washington, D.C., that the more his company drills, the more oil it finds. Continental Resources has seen its "proved reserves" of oil and natural gas (mostly in North Dakota) skyrocket to 421 million barrels this summer from 118 million barrels in 2006.
"We expect our reserves and production to triple over the next five years." And for those who think this oil find is only making Mr. Hamm rich, he notes that today in America "there are 10 million royalty owners across the country" who receive payments for the oil drilled on their land. "The wealth is being widely shared."
The fact is that over the next few years, Bakken is going to provide huge employment opportunities, taxes, you name it – all of the positives that get an economy going again.
How much? Well that’s still to be determined, but if our experience with the Barnett shale formation down Texas way is any example, lots. Here are the results of a recent study of the impact of the exploitation of Barnett shale by the Perryman Group [pdf]:
More than 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas have been produced from the Barnett Shale. Currently, 24 counties have producing wells, with permits issued for a 25th county.
Although exploration activity slowed during the economic downturn, production from the Barnett Shale continued to rise, topping 1.8 trillion cubic feet in 2010.
More than 70 rigs are currently drilling in the Barnett Shale.
The Perryman Group estimated the positive effect of Barnett Shale related activity on the regional and state economies. This economic stimulus stems from (1) exploration, drilling, and related activity; (2) pipeline investments and related operations; and (3) royalties and lease bonuses. In addition, the oil and gas companies involved donate millions to area charities and pay substantial ad valorem taxes.
The Perryman Group estimated the 2011 total effect of Barnett Shale activity to include $11.1 billion in annual output and 100,268 jobs in the region. While the majority of the stimulus comes from exploration and drilling, pipeline development and royalty and lease payments also contribute to the overall impact.
For the state as a whole, Barnett Shale-related activity leads to estimated 2011 gains in output (gross product) of almost $13.7 billion as well as 119,216 jobs.
The Perryman Group estimates that the cumulative economic benefits during the 2001-2011 period include $65.4 billion in output (gross product) and 596,648 person-years of employment in the region. For the state as a whole (including the Barnett Shale region), the total benefits over the 2001-2011 period were found to include $80.7 billion in output (gross product) and 710,319 person years of employment.
Approximately 38.5% of the incremental growth in the economy of the region over the past decade has been the result of Barnett Shale activity. Moreover, the overall economic contribution of this phenomenon now constitutes about 8.5% of the local business complex.
Activity in the Barnett Shale is also an important source of tax revenues to local entities as well as the State. The Perryman Group estimates that in 2011, counties, cities, and school districts in the region will receive some $730.6 million in additional fiscal revenues due to the Barnett Shale and related activity.
The State will likely receive another $911.8 million, for a total gain in local and State taxes of an estimated $1.6 billion.
Over the entire 2001-2011 period, The Perryman Group estimates that local taxing entities received an additional $5.3 billion in tax receipts, with another $5.8 billion to the State.
It would seem to most reasonable and rational people that encouraging this would be the smartest and one of the most effective ways to help the economy recover.
But apparently that’s just not the priority – at least when it comes up against the political agenda pushing the myth of instant green energy if we’ll just pour more money into it.
So, instead we get this:
Washington keeps "sticking a regulatory boot at our necks and then turns around and asks: ‘Why aren’t you creating more jobs,’" he says. He roils at the Interior Department delays of months and sometimes years to get permits for drilling. "These delays kill projects," he says. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission is now tightening the screws on the oil industry, requiring companies like Continental to report their production and federal royalties on thousands of individual leases under the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules. "I could go to jail because a local operator misreported the production in the field," he says.
The White House proposal to raise $40 billion of taxes on oil and gas—by excluding those industries from credits that go to all domestic manufacturers—is also a major hindrance to exploration and drilling. "That just stops the drilling," Mr. Hamm believes. "I’ve seen these things come about before, like [Jimmy] Carter’s windfall profits tax." He says America’s rig count on active wells went from 4,500 to less than 55 in a matter of months. "That was a dumb idea. Thank God, Reagan got rid of that."
A few months ago the Obama Justice Department brought charges against Continental and six other oil companies in North Dakota for causing the death of 28 migratory birds, in violation of the Migratory Bird Act. Continental’s crime was killing one bird "the size of a sparrow" in its oil pits. The charges carry criminal penalties of up to six months in jail. "It’s not even a rare bird. There’re jillions of them," he explains. He says that "people in North Dakota are really outraged by these legal actions," which he views as "completely discriminatory" because the feds have rarely if ever prosecuted the Obama administration’s beloved wind industry, which kills hundreds of thousands of birds each year.
Continental pleaded not guilty to the charges last week in federal court. For Mr. Hamm the whole incident is tantamount to harassment. "This shouldn’t happen in America," he says. To him the case is further proof that Washington "is out to get us."
And everything we’ve seen seems to agree with Hamm’s assessment. He’s completely right about the wind power point. In fact, the California condor, which was finally removed from the endangered species list, is probably going to end up going back on because so many have been killed by wind mills. Not a peep from the Feds.
The government floods green energy—a niche market that supplies 2.5% of our energy needs—with billions of dollars of subsidies a year. "Wind isn’t commercially feasible with natural gas prices below $6" per thousand cubic feet, notes Mr. Hamm. Right now its price is below $4. This may explain the administration’s hostility to the fossil-fuel renaissance.
This administration’s policies are simply absurd to say the least.
We have the means, the technology and the will to exploit these natural resources. They will provide millions of jobs (both direct and indirect) – good, high paying jobs. That also means increased revenue at all levels of government, not to mention more and more energy security.
Mr. Hamm calculates that if Washington would allow more drilling permits for oil and natural gas on federal lands and federal waters, "I truly believe the federal government could over time raise $18 trillion in royalties." That’s more than the U.S. national debt, I say. He smiles.
Even if that’s only half true, what’s not to like or want, especially now in our current economic situation?
I have no idea …. ask President Obama.