Ideological purity or a stronger economy? Partisanship hurting progress

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One thing all Americans agree on is the need to improve our economy. But as with so many other political issues, extremists in both parties are working against that mutual goal.

Members of the Center for Biological Diversity and the So Cal Climate Action Coalition 350 protest the Keystone XL pipeline during a visit by President Obama for a two-day visit to Los Angeles for two political fund-raisers May 7.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Members of the Center for Biological Diversity and the So Cal Climate Action Coalition 350 protest the Keystone XL pipeline during a visit by President Obama for a two-day visit to Los Angeles for two political fund-raisers May 7.

Their rigid positions prevent commonsense solutions that will help the economy. Both the lack of a rational energy policy and outdated immigration laws hurt our economy. Needed changes are resisted by extremists from the left and right.

The poster child for the far left’s reduced carbon energy policy is the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Those against the pipeline say the tar sands’ crude oil will increase pollution and global warming because more greenhouse gases are produced during refining. Deferring to those who oppose the XL pipeline, President Obama has postponed an approval decision indefinitely.

THE NATIONAL Climate Assessment released in May emphasizes our increasing climate problem, and Democrats are correct to work toward reducing climate damage. But the fact is the Canadian crude will be refined even if the XL pipeline is not built. The Canadians will instead build a western pipeline to an ocean port near Vancouver.

In the interim, the crude oil will be hauled by trains. But the increased use of trains for transporting crude has resulted in several actual and near disasters. Pipelines are safer, less expensive and pollute less than trains. America has 2.6 million miles of gas and oil pipelines, and an additional thousand miles is insignificant.

Because the tar sands oil will be refined in any case, the claim that the XL pipeline will increase pollution is false. The pipeline would contribute $3.4 billion annually to the U.S. economy, and reduce our dependence on oil from unfriendly countries.

XL pipeline opponents are taking a symbolic stand, not a real one. Their political energy would be better spent finding realistic trade-offs between the needs for energy and reducing pollution.

But Republicans have their own albatross: a failure to fix outdated immigration laws. Their point is that we have 12 million illegal immigrants, mostly Hispanic, who violated the law when they entered this country, and they must be dealt with.

REPUBLICANS ARE right. But in forging a solution, we must acknowledge the reality of the illegals’ presence, and the labor needs of the economy. We should not put illegal immigrants at the head of the line for legal residency or citizenship, but we need the less-skilled immigrant workers to fill jobs U.S. citizens don’t fill. Millions of agriculture, food service, construction and cleaning jobs are filled by immigrants, many illegal.

A second immigration problem is our need for highly skilled engineers and scientists. Many of the world’s most talented people want to come to America to study at our graduate schools and work in the high-tech industry. We educate the students, and then send them home because of outdated restrictions on work visas for this country.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the impact of the Senate immigration bill passed last year is an economic windfall: “The bill would increase the U.S. GDP by 3.3 percent ($700 billion) in 2023 and 5.4 percent ($1.4 trillion) in 2033.”

SAFELY GERRYMANDERED Republican representatives do not seem concerned that their intransigence not only reduces economic growth, but badly damages their 2016 presidential candidate. Republicans lost the Hispanic vote in the last presidential election, 71 percent to 27 percent. Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in America, yet Republicans can’t decide whether to take them out of residency limbo.

As Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina bluntly put it, “It’s hard to sell your economic agenda if they think you’re going to deport their grandmother.” House Speaker John Boehner has tried without success to get his House Republican colleagues to address immigration reform.

Wrapping oneself in a righteous position may feel good, but it hurts the economy. Hyperpartisan Democrats and Republicans should do something courageous – compromise.

Give a little, get a little.

(The writer is a retired U.S. Navy officer. He lives and writes in Savannah.)

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carcraft 06/01/14 - 04:36 am
George Bush "gave a little "

George Bush "gave a little " and raised taxes as Democrates wished. The Democrates then hung Bush's compromise around his neck to elect Clinton.I sure didn't see a lot of "giving a littlewith" the health care bill. Reagan "gave a little" and agreed to pass amnesty and the Democrates "gave a little" agreed to fix the boarder. Will who lived up to thier promises?

Riverman1 06/01/14 - 07:49 am
Catch Cattle Flatus In Plastic Bags While You're At It

To hold up the XL Pipeline claiming it will have an impact on climate is the mindset of those who try to prevent cattle from passing gas.

Bizkit 06/01/14 - 09:00 am
Car is correct Dems have

Car is correct Dems have promised to lower taxes for Rep concessions and then failed to do so, now Dems just table over 200 bills and do nothing. Funny how they have the audacity to call Rep the party of No. But the editorial is more balanced than most and he is correct that both parties are reluctant to deal and we have a statement. Which is precipitating Obama's executive actions of which Rep lament his actions. I firmly believe Reid is holding things up exactly so Obama can take executive action. There's the problem. We need a way to address this perfect storm of govt strife with some law to prevent this inaction.

deestafford 06/01/14 - 09:21 am
There is little room to compromise with those who want...

There is little room to compromise with those who want to destroy our way of life...which is what the vast majority of the Democratic party wants to do. Make no mistake, this is not the Democratic party of thirty years or more ago. It is now a socialist, Marxist, anti-American party and makes little bone about it. The members have no understanding or belief in The Constitution or our other founding documents.

The author is getting more and more liberal with each column he writes. Our immigration laws are not broke or outdated. The problem is our current immigration laws ARE NOT BEING ENFORCED!

The liberals and some Republicans want to open our borders to just about anyone who has a problem in their home country or wants a better life for themselves and their families.

We cannot open our borders to the six billion people in the world. There is no God-given right for ANYONE to be admitted to the Untied States. The more people we bring in today who fail to assimilate, as most are doing, the more diluted our culture becomes. There is nothing positive about the dilution of the American culture to become "like the rest of the world." We are different and that is what has made us the greatest country in the world.

The reason some jobs are not being filled is because there are those who will not do them at the wages offered. Also, there are too many incentives as provided by the government in the way of a hammock, for people not to take the dirty and hard jobs. If we set a system which says, "No work. No eat." We will find less of a need for immigrant labor.

For all those who say, "We are a nation of immigrants." I say, "You left out one word, LEGAL. We are a nation of LEGAL immigrates".

To the author I say... the cobra cannot compromise with the mongoose if he wants to live.

Bizkit 06/01/14 - 10:21 am
Well Dee they are getting

Well Dee they are getting nasty with the personal attack just dismissing people as ignorant, uneducated, racist, misogynist, etc. Just no debate. The Dems really are the party of NO!!!! The Rep are the Stupid Party.

Darby 06/01/14 - 11:57 am
Food for thought....

"Millions of agriculture, food service, construction and cleaning jobs are filled by immigrants, many illegal."

If there were no "illegals" do you believe for a New York Minute that those jobs WOULD NOT be filled by Americans at a higher wage?

If you think those jobs would go unfilled, your head is not on straight!

lovingthesouth72 06/05/14 - 01:10 pm
One man to do the job

This is why we need Dr Ben Carson in the White House.

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