Official Labor Department reports say the nation’s February unemployment rate is still 8.3% – but reality is far worse.
Most of that job growth was in business and professional services, and half was temporary. Millions of Americans are working part-time or at multiple low-wage jobs to make ends meet. Overall, 23.5 million are out of work or underemployed.
Factor all that in, and the real unemployment rate is 14.9%, according to University of Maryland economist Peter Morici.
Making matters worse, regular gasoline prices have hit $4 in numerous cities – compared to a national average of $1.61 on December 31, 2008, just before President Obama took office.
Thankfully, we could reduce these intolerable numbers dramatically, if President Obama would just stop currying favor with environmental extremists and start supporting energy policies that benefit all Americans – policies that use real American energy to create real American jobs.
The answer to our job shortage, energy shortage, and soaring gasoline prices is the same. Extract more oil and natural gas from deposits under our land and offshore areas. Bring more oil to the U.S. from Canada via the Keystone XL pipeline.
Manufacture more fuels in American refineries to power American cars and trucks, and sell abroad to preserve jobs and lower our trade deficit. Reduce the excessive, oppressive regulations that federal bureaucrats are imposing on our energy industry.
According to a March 2012 World Economic Forum report, the U.S. oil and gas industry created 37,000 direct jobs and 111,000 indirect jobs in 2011. That’s nearly one out of ten jobs created nationwide last year, and they didn’t need any Solyndra subsidies.
A January 2012 Wood Mackenzie study found that 530,000 more jobs could be created if American companies were allowed to explore and drill for oil and natural gas in some of the areas that are now off-limits. The study says this would generate $150 billion in increased government taxes and fees by 2025 and would expand domestic production by 4 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, greatly reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
Instead, President Obama has adopted a bumper-sticker anti-fossil fuels policy: “Just say no.”
The president has made 95% of federal lands and waters off-limits to drilling. He has blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring more than 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to Texas. He is demanding oil industry tax increases that would further reduce U.S. oil production and make gasoline and diesel fuel even more expensive.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Institute for Energy Research calculate that the United States has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable conventional oil, plus huge additional supplies in shale deposits. Oil companies aren’t asking for subsidies to get this energy. They just want permission to produce it. But Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department, and other agencies keep throwing roadblocks in their way.
The president’s war on fossil fuels is designed to destroy many of the 9.2 million jobs supported by the oil and gas industry – in hopes of replacing them with jobs in tax-subsidized “green” energy companies backed by his political supporters, campaign contributors, and Democrat allies.
The president apparently believes some of these companies will succeed, if he just throws enough billions of your tax dollars at them. However, many of these failure-prone companies produce flawed products that American consumers wisely refuse to buy.
The $535 million in taxpayer money given to the now-bankrupt Solyndra solar power company is just one example of President Obama’s policy of subsidizing failure and punishing success.
General Motors recently announced it was suspending production of the Chevy Volt gas-and-electric car; people simply haven't been buying the cars, despite the $7,500 taxpayer subsidy the president has been giving to anyone who buys one. Now the president wants to increase the subsidy to $10,000.
President Obama says we are running out of oil and gas, can’t drill our way to cheaper gasoline, and should blame anybody but him for $4-per-gallon gasoline.
The only petroleum we’re running out of is what his administration is letting us produce.
Moreover, the EIA says 76% of what we pay for gasoline is determined by world crude oil prices; 12% is federal and state taxes; 6% is refining; and 6% is marketing and distribution.
The price of crude oil that refiners transform into essential products is set by the world market and fluctuates based on supply and demand. You don’t need a PhD in economics to understand that producing more American oil and getting more from Canada would increase supplies and decrease gasoline prices.
That’s the direction in which we need to go.
Instead of embracing fantasy energy policies, President Obama needs to step into the real world. He should welcome expanded development of our vast oil and natural gas resources, increased oil imports from Canada, and the lower fuel prices this would bring.
Everyone would benefit – even his own approval ratings.
Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is a Republican candidate for Congress in Ohio’s ninth congressional district. Samuel Wurzelbacher rose to national fame as “Joe the Plumber” when he challenged then-candidate Barack Obama on his plans to increase taxes on the middle class. Since 2008, Wurzelbacher has spoken nationally in support of blue collar workers, encouraging voters to get engaged in the political process.