Who’s Obstructionist?

We hear a lot about Republican obstructionism, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing–the Obama administration wants to do lots of things that ought to be obstructed. Still, it is odd how seldom we hear about Democrats being obstructionist. That is starting to change, perhaps, following the mid-term elections.

But think about the last six years: the Republicans wanted to obstruct Obamacare and the “stimulus” boondoggle, but they didn’t have the votes. The world would be a much better place, we now know, if they had succeeded. More recently they have been able to stymie smaller liberal proposals.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have obstructed some important conservative initiatives that would have yielded major, positive results. The Keystone Pipeline is one obvious example. Overwhelmingly favored by the American people, it has passed the House easily on several occasions, and last night it got 59 votes in the Senate–obstructed by the narrowest of Democratic Party margins. Keystone is a no-brainer jobs program. The Perryman Group study, done in 2010, concluded that Keystone would create from a quarter-million to a half-million new jobs:

Under “normal” oil price assumptions equivalent to the average for all of 2007, The Perryman Group found the gains in US business activity stemming from a permanent increase in stable oil supplies to include $100.144 billion in total spending, $29.048 billion in output, and 250,348 permanent jobs.

In the high-price case in which costs per barrel reach the peak levels observed in the summer of 2008, The Perryman Group measured the annual impact of an increase in stable oil supplies associated with the Keystone XL Pipeline Project to include $221.305 billion in spending, $64.193 billion in output, and 553,235 jobs.

But the Democrats obstructed that wealth creation, based on a global warming theory that they couldn’t articulate coherently–if Keystone isn’t built, the Alberta oil will be consumed in China, under less environmentally favorable conditions. Only an extremist could think that makes any kind of sense. Michael Ramirez comments:

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While the Democrats’ Keystone obstruction is well known, it is far from the worst example of their standing in the way of progress. The United States has a unique corporate tax regime: we not only tax income that companies earn in the U.S., just as all countries tax income earned within their borders. We also tax U.S.-domiciled companies on all income they earn in other countries, even though that income has already been taxed once. No one else is arrogant enough to do this. Not only that, we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world.

What that means is that American companies who earn money overseas, as all substantial companies do, can’t bring that money back to the United States and use it to develop facilities and hire employees here. If they bring the money back–the technical term is “repatriation”–it will be double-taxed, at America’s exorbitant rate. I would think that any corporate management dumb enough to bring money back to the U.S. under those circumstances would open itself up to shareholders’ lawsuits.

So around $2 trillion earned by American companies overseas is stuck there, contributing to the economies of South Korea, Ireland, Germany, Argentina, South Africa, Poland, India, China–you name it, but not the United States. Because of the unique arrogance and stupidity of American tax laws.

Everyone knows this is dumb–even Harry Reid probably understands it–and Republicans have been trying for years to change these repatriation rules in the tax code. But Democrats have obstructed any progress. That has been great for job creation around the world, everywhere except here. Why have Democrats gone out of their way to block job creation in the United States and ship jobs overseas? I can’t tell you. You will have to ask them. As best I can tell, they are lowering your income in order to appease the nuttiest and least-informed elements of their base.

In these and many other ways, Washington Democrats have done all they can to obstruct the progress of the American economy. This is the main reason why the current recovery, now five years old, is by far the weakest recovery of the post-war era. If we can end the Democrats’ obstruction, starting when the new Congress convenes in January, America’s economy could have a bright future.

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