The Washington Times-Herald

Our Perspective

December 21, 2011

Playing politics with an oil pipeline

(Continued)

New Castle —

Yet the Republican Party, which routinely gives lip service to the joys of local control, is advocating a big-government, cram-it-down-their-throats approach to this pipeline.

From the Obama administration’s view, the environmental impact of this pipeline is a concern. That appears to be especially so in parts of Nebraska, where sensitive lands could be impacted.

A recent agreement in that state to alter the projected pipeline route may speed the process, but this doesn’t mean the issue is resolved.

Again, a key point here isn’t that the Republican legislation forces construction of the pipeline. Instead, it forces Obama to take a stand within a narrow time frame. The goal of the bill isn’t to build a pipeline; it’s to put the president on the spot, with the hopes of creating a campaign issue in 2012.

Plus, it’s intriguing that Republicans are insisting on pipeline language before they will back a payroll tax cut. Isn’t this the same party that advocates tax cuts on a routine basis, arguing that they pay for themselves by putting money in the private sector and prompting economic growth?

The Democratic-controlled Senate approved the bill with the pipeline language, but in a twist of its own, limited the tax cut to just two months. This will force Republicans to act again early next year, and House Speaker John Boehner is threatening to kill the final deal that most Senate Republicans agreed to.

There are good reasons to oppose a payroll tax cut — or any tax cut for that matter. Both parties in Washington need to bring spending under control. After that’s done, cutting taxes makes sense.

But rational policies and fiscal discipline aren’t part of the equation in Washington. Instead, we get an endless supply of games. And the American people are the big losers.

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Mitchel Olszak is a columnist for the New Castle (Pa.) News.

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