So the rumblings about a cave-in were apparently true. Can’t find anything on the wires yet, but Guy Benson of Townhall hears from a “senior GOP source” that it’s a done deal and Fox News’s Chad Pergram quotes Lamar Alexander as saying, “We’re very pleased with the decision on the Keystone pipeline.” Benson:
Round one of this fight went to Obama. Round two, to the GOP. Round three? A TKO decision for Republicans. A senior GOP source tells me that Democrats have agreed to a two-month extension of the temporary payroll tax cuts — plus unemployment benefits and the “doc fix” — with some extra Christmas goodies for conservatives. Quote: “Two-month extension, PLUS Keystone. Fully paid for; no tax hikes. Hallelujah.”
Note that it’s not a comprehensive deal on the payroll tax, just a two-month extension, but that means there’ll be another opportunity for more goodies soon. Smells like victory, and yet … that possibility troubles my eeyorish mind. Let me throw you a pessimistic curveball cribbed from the comments in the other Keystone thread: What if Obama’s secretly been hoping for this outcome? His problem with the pipeline was that it forces him to choose between environmentalists and labor. He’d love to have those new jobs so that he has some teeny tiny economic accomplishment to tout next year, but he doesn’t want to tick off the greens by rubber-stamping approval of the pipeline. So instead he pretends to punt his decision until after the election, knowing full well that the GOP will take up the issue somehow in order to burnish their own jobs credentials. Now that they’ve done so and thrown it back in his lap, he can hug the greens and whisper a tender “I tried because I love you” in their ears before turning around and signing off on the pipeline in the name of economic recovery. In other words, the original punt was really just a fake punt and now he’s in the end zone. Dude, did we just get rolled by Obama?
I’m thinking no, we didn’t, because we get something out of this too on top of all those tasty jobs. Via Pew:
Do-nothing Congress = bad. Job-creating GOP-driven bipartisan achievements = good! Exit question via Tina, who sent this link to me in an e-mail: Everyone comfortable with the use of eminent domain to make this project happen?
Update (Tina): If Allahpundit’s eeyorish theory is right and the president planned this, his plan has already backfired. Environmentalists are still upset with him. From Politico Pro:
For greens, the fact that the Keystone pipeline was back on the table five weeks after Obama had seemingly punted it until 2013 is causing considerable heartburn with an administration that hasn’t been as green as they once wished.
Their initial win looked even better because it came just days after thousands circled the White House at a weekend protest that drew celebrity faces like actor Mark Ruffalo. But now Obama’s environmental allies again face the question of whether to withhold support for his reelection campaign.
“I think everyone will try to take a breath and see what the language is and what the State Department can do,” said Bill McKibben, the organizer of the November anti-Keystone protest. “But I think everyone will also feel really upset. Profoundly upset.”
“People literally put their bodies on the line and they thanked the president when they took him seriously,” McKibben added. “And the president said he was acting on principle and that it was important and if that resolve lasts five weeks and that’s it, if all it takes is Newt Gingrich getting up and expostulating San Francisco and environmental extremist for him to turn around, that’s really sad.”
Sierra Club president Michael Brune put it even more bluntly: “This is bulls–t,” he said. “This is no way to run a government.” Brune also hinted earlier this year that his group could shift money from the presidential race to congressional races if he’s not pleased with the president.
The more plausible theory for a cynic is the one Democrats themselves have openly stated: They’re hoping the two-month time frame for this deal is too short for the president to actually give the green light to the Keystone pipeline. After all, they say, the State Department is still in the midst of environmental reviews projected to take longer than 60 days. In other words, the president might approve the project in general now — but he and the State Department might yet step in to stop actual construction of the pipeline.
But even that seems like a stretch, desperate Democratic spin in the wake of a negotiation they clearly lost. As Guy’s senior GOP source also told me tonight, plenty of Dems are on record saying the pipeline won’t create as many jobs as projected — so, when it does, they’ll be hard put to share credit.
Last thought, regarding eminent domain: The same source reminds me state governments have a hand in approving the specific route of the pipeline. Nebraska, for example, has renegotiated the route with TransCanada. My own thought, then, is this: Savvy state governments should be able to work around the eminent domain issue.