[This article now cross-published by Salon...]
We've long argued that the Republican Party is no longer a legitimate governing party. Never mind whether we agree with them on any particular policy issue, they are simply no longer a serious organization.
That fact was underscored again on Tuesday and over the weekend, in light of the release of two different official reports, one from the U.S. State Department on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project and another from the Congressional Budget Office on the economic outlook in light of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or "Obamacare").
Never mind whether you agree with the Republican position on either of those two policies. The fact that the party feels it necessary to blatantly lie about what's in each of those reports, specifically with regard to "job creation," in order to advocate for their own policy positions, underscores yet again that these are simply not serious people who are worth being taken seriously anymore...
Keystone XL Jobs Lie
If it receives approval from both the State Dept. and White House, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would ship dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico to be shipped overseas.
After years of claims by Republicans that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would "create tens of thousands of jobs," we now have some hard numbers on that, at least from the U.S. State Department, if you choose to believe them.
Last year, while pushing for the KXL, House Speaker John Boehner released a statement claiming that the pipeline "will create over 20,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs." On Friday, as the State Dept. released its "Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement" on the project, Boehner once again released a statement re-iterating his previous claim that the pipeline would bring "more than 100,000 jobs".
The trouble is, that's not true. At least according to the actual State Dept. report which was the occasion for Boehner's Friday statement.
The report is long and in many pieces, so, naturally, it'd be too much to ask of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives or anybody in his office to actually read it before issuing a statement about it. Nonetheless, it comes with a reasonably brief Executive Summary [PDF] (just 44 pages) in which it speaks directly to the issue of jobs in relation to KXL.
In the section on "Economic Activity During Construction" (page 26), the report estimates that "Construction spending would support a combined total of approximately 42,100 jobs throughout the United States for the up to 2-year construction period."
That sounds pretty good! Until one bothers to keep reading. "A job consists of one position that is filled for one year. The term support means jobs ranging from new jobs (i.e., not previously existing) to the continuity of existing jobs in current or new locations."
Approximately 16,100 of those temporary jobs would be "direct jobs at firms that are awarded contracts for goods and services, including construction" and the rest, "approximately 26,000," would be the result of "indirect or induced spending". In other words, that would be "goods and services purchased by the construction contractors and spending by employees working for either the construction contractor or for any supplier of goods and services required in the construction process."
So, in addition to people who work for suppliers (where they may already be employed prior to the approval of KXL), people who work at restaurants or motels near the construction site or for any of the suppliers, also count as "jobs" in this estimate. For example, the report cites "ranchers providing beef for restaurants and construction camps."
Fair enough. Two years of jobs for those folks, many of whom will be able to continue working in the jobs they already have (so those jobs are not "created", per se, by the construction of the pipeline.)
After it's built, however, either one or two years later, according to the very next section of the Executive Summary entitled "Economic Activity During Operations", the report states quite clearly [emphasis added]:
That's it. The Keystone XL Pipeline will offer 35 permanent jobs in the U.S. for the life of the pipeline, according to the U.S. State Department's final analysis.
That's a far cry from Boehner's claim on Friday, after the report came out, that KXL would bring "more than 100,000 jobs...with it".
Of course, Boehner's hardly the only one in the Republican Party disingenuously making such unsupported claims about KXL. Last year, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus took to Facebook to claim that "The Keystone Pipeline would create thousands of jobs." Last week, he took to Twitter to claim that "721,000 construction jobs have been lost, #Keystone remains unapproved."
Perhaps Priebus was referring to something other than Keystone with that 721,000 number --- it's unclear from his tweet --- but if his message was unclear, that would be no accident. His quarter of a million followers on Twitter heard it loud and clear. He, like Boehner, was willing to lie to them in order to advocate for the pipeline --- a pipeline that would result in 35 permanent American jobs.
Again, whether you support or oppose the pipeline doesn't really matter. Whether you feel temporary jobs are good enough, that's fine. But knowingly lying about the jobs that it will or won't "create" is what we find grotesquely offensive here.
Obamacare Jobs Lie
This one was a doozy. On Tuesday, a new report [PDF] on the economic outlook for the U.S. through 2024 was released by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Republicans couldn't wait to
mischaracterize lie about what it said.
As usual, Fox "News" lead the charge on behalf of Republican officials (who repeated the lie all day), claiming that "ObamaCare could lead to loss of nearly 2.3 million US jobs, report says".
The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) was just one of dozens of other official GOP mouth-pieces to echo the completely misleading claim...
— NRCC (@NRCC) February 4, 2014
For the record, other non-Rightwing outlets also badly mischaracterized the report. The Republicans were very happy about that, and couldn't be bothered to correct the error.
No, the CBO did not claim Obamacare would will lead to the loss of either 2.3 or 2.5 million jobs, as the Republicans lied all day on Tuesday.
As the Washington Post's Fact Checker columnist Glenn Kessler explained in awarding three out of four "Pinocchios" to those who deliberately mislead about the CBO's projection on ACA-related employment numbers, "No, CBO did not say Obamacare will kill 2 million jobs."
"This is not about jobs," Kessler explains. "It’s about workers --- and the choices they make."
Here's what all the nonsense is about. Buried on page 123 of the 182-page CBO report, it states: "CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor --- given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive."
In other words, because premium subsidies and other incentives will be available, some workers will eventually be able to chose to not continue working, simply because they need the healthcare coverage afforded by their employment.
"Specifically, CBO estimates that the ACA will cause a reduction of roughly 1 percent in aggregate labor compensation over the 2017--2024 period, compared with what it would have been otherwise," the report says. "The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than as an increase in unemployment."
As White House spokesman Jay Carney explained after the report was released on Tuesday: "At the beginning of this year, we noted that as part of this new day in health care, Americans would no longer be trapped in a job just to provide coverage for their families, and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams," he said. "This CBO report bears that out, and the Republican plan to repeal the ACA would strip those hard-working Americans of that opportunity."
This is about people choosing to not work as long in life or as many hours. (Moreover, those jobs could then become available to others still seeking more work.) In short, the CBO's numbers were not about the loss of jobs, at all. It's really not all that complicated, unless you'd like to lie to the American people about it.
Now, you are welcome to disagree with the CBO numbers, or Carney's or Kessler's or our interpretation of them. (As usual, you don't need to simply trust us. We've given you the links to the actual reports. Read them and decide for yourself.) You are welcome to think it's an outrage that people might choose to work less when they are ill, because they don't have to keep working in order to pay for health care. You are welcome to hate Obamacare all you like and demand its complete repeal, just as you are welcome to call for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, if you like the idea of shipping the world's dirtiest fossil fuel product across a continent of drinking water in order to ship gas to China.
But when you've got to lie, repeatedly, about demonstrable, independently verifiable facts, then you are not a legitimate advocate that deserves to be taken seriously.
The Republican Party has given up on advocating seriously for whatever policy positions they believe in. They are far past that, and have now simply taken to lying in hopes of scamming Americans into voting for them and buying into their policies.
That is not the earmark of a serious policy-making organization, and it is for that reason that we --- sadly --- no longer regard the Republican Party as a legitimate political body.
That's not good for America or for Democrats, for that matter. But it just happens to be the sad truth.