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GOP Ties Oil Pipeline to Unemployment Insurance, Payroll Tax Cut

December 12, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

For months, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been talking about the need to come together on a plan to extend several policies that will expire at the end of the year. But with just a handful of days left before the holiday break, the two sides are only growing further apart on how to get it done.

The policies include the payroll tax holiday, unemployment insurance, a patch of the Alternative Minimum Tax to ensure that it does not affect middle-income earners, and an override of a 27% cut to Medicare doctor pay that is scheduled to go into effect. At this point both parties agree that they should be extended, but they disagree over how to offset their approximately $350 billion price tag. The Democrats are proposing to pay for the extensions with a small tax on all income earned above $1 million, while the Republicans are proposing to prevent all federal employees from receiving pay raises for two years and requiring them to contribute more to their pensions.

And that’s basically where things stood for weeks — until now. House Republicans, rather than bending towards the Democrats, are now adding unrelated language to the bill that is supported by some of their top corporate donors:

House Republicans Friday unveiled their bill to extend the payroll tax cut, jobless benefits and the Medicare reimbursement formula, setting up an early week vote and a Christmastime showdown with the Democratic Senate.

The bill — called the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011 — is nearly 370 pages, and includes peripheral issues such as restarting the stalled Keystone XL pipeline project, altering of environmental regulations and the selling of broadband spectrum.

The Republicans’ bill would also reduce the maximum amount of time unemployed workers could receive insurance benefits to 59 weeks from the current 99 and allow states to require drug testing for recipients. 

The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, is being delayed by the Obama Administration over environmental concerns, is a priority for top Republicans funders. Companies like Valero Energy, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron that have reported lobbying recently on stand-alone legislation to expedite the pipeline consistently donate millions each year to federal candidates with the vast majority of the money going to Republicans.

President Obama has already vowed to “reject” any bill that links the Keystone XL pipeline issue to the payroll tax cut extension.

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  • jcolley 12/12/2011 3:54pm

    I hate this patronizing attitude that’s tying jobs to the Keystone pipeline. It was bad enough seeing those Exxon commercials everywhere. Now Mr.Boehner is doing it too. ….puke….

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  • jamesjohn 12/13/2011 6:49am

    Seems like it will come with massive explore!
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  • jamesjohn 12/13/2011 6:53am

    Seems like it will come with massive explore!
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  • nancym 12/13/2011 9:33am

    They never give up, do they! Florida’s courts have already struck down (not sure, I think it’s being appealed) Rick Scott’s attempt to require drug testing for welfare recipients in Florida. The Florida courts essentially laughed at his claim that it was “cost-effective” and all the politicians across the country who claim there were just hordes of people on drugs in these programs have been caught in a lie by actual data. To add insult to injury, claimants had to pay for their own tests, and then get reimbursed if they passed.

    So now they’re going after the unemployed, claiming they’re on drugs too. ! Unbelievable! Someone should drug test these politicians, really. It should be a requirement to hold office if they think it’s ok to test everybody else.

  • uncleray 12/13/2011 1:09pm

    From what I have read the Keystone XL will:
    1. Create 2,000-3,000 temporary construction jobs at best – more likely 1,000-1,500
    2. Very few permanant jobs. Doesn’t take many jobs to operate a pipe!
    3. TransCanada is getting exemption from environmental rules.
    4. The transported oil will be refined here and shipped to overseas markets.
    Bottom line, we get the sludge and a couple of jobs and Big Oil gets a wad of cash. Thanks to the Grand Oil Party

  • luminous 12/13/2011 2:59pm

    State dept. has said that will attempts to fast track keystone pipe will lead to them denieing the application. Their are a number of rather large problems with the Pipeline that the oil company is trying to ignore. For one they want to build a 100 mile stretch on soft soil ground that tends to shift around, This will causes breaks and spills. The pipeline goes over area’s linked to ground water supplies that are very very important to farming, And really we should we risk a multi billion a year farming industry that fills tens/hundreds of thousands of jobs every year for a foreign companies oil pipeline.

    If they would just move the thing somewhere less stupid, and give us a chunk of the revenue for the risk involved in allowing it. And not be asking for exemptions from liability to the environmental laws because of the stupid placement of their pipeline.

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  • Arwoman 12/16/2011 8:28pm

    Typical political party domination tactic. It isn’t about what is good for our country. It is about making it impossible to pass, then blaming it on the incumbent party. That really stinks, because we will pay for it… again.
    Although the drug testing rider isn’t entirely a bad idea, it will require approval of the Supreme court and won’t pass in any form. The repubs know this. It is a setup…. again. Everybody out and put in a bunch of housewives that know how to clean house and not sleep with the banker. Outlaw lobbyists and repeal free trade. Time to start over. Really tired of politicians taking advantage of the nearly expired middle class and pretending that we don’t know what they are doing.

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