Who’s Looking out for you? Another tough day in Hawaii

By GOPUSA Staff December 30, 2011 8:59 am

Have you seen any coverage of the president’s $4,000,000 vacation in Hawaii? Never fear, the British press is doing the job that American media refuses to do.

Yes, your president spent yesterday on the links, but this time with a john. That’s not with John, it’s with a john, arrested, convicted and vacationing in Hawaii with the leader of the free world. His name is Robert ‘Bobby’ Titcomb, and the UK Daily Mail will tell you rest of the story and even show you some pictures.

Just lay those unpaid bills aside and settle in to see how rough your president has it.


A five-course meal at Honolulu’s priciest restaurant after golf with his hooker-loving buddy… Obama faces another tough day in Hawaii







President Obama is clearly not roughing it as he plays a lot of golf between trips to the beach with his wife and two daughters. But as the commander-in-chief teed off at the Ko’olau Golf Club yesterday, the one thing more eye-opening than his handicap is who he golfs with.

With him at Ko’alau was Robert ‘Bobby’ Titcomb, a close friend of Obama’s since high school, who was arrested in a prostitution sting. Titcomb was one of four men who allegedly approached an undercover police officer for sex in downtown Hawaii on April 4. A judge fined him $500 but accepted his request for a deferral, meaning the charge will be wiped off his record if Titcomb stays out of trouble for six months.

After several hours on the course with Titcomb and two others, the president kicked back with the First Lady, his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, and several other friends at one of Honolulu’s priciest restaurants.

The presidential motorcade made a stop last night at Alan Wong’s Restaurant, located close to the Honolulu area where Obama spent his teenage years.

Read more…






Dem lawmaker blasts ‘Professor Obama’ as arrogant, alienating

By Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) – 12/13/11 06:05 AM ET

After observing President Obama for the last three years, it has become obvious to me that the president might prefer to be a university professor rather than do the job he holds today. While he might not realize that he feels this way, the evidence is very clear to those who work with or watch him closely.

Let me be clear — I’m not trying to disparage professors. But anyone who wonders why the president is not crushing the weak Republican field only needs to examine how President Obama has behaved more like Professor Obama:


In the president’s first year in office, his administration suffered from what I call “idea disease.” Every week, and sometimes almost every day, the administration rolled out a new program for the country. There was no obvious prioritization and, after the rollout, very little effort to actually pass the latest idea/imperative/plan/edict. Instead, the new programs just kept coming, with the new proposals constantly stepping on the previous day’s message. This rampant “idea disease” squandered the tremendous goodwill generated by the Obama campaign’s message of “hope,” tainting the president’s personal appeal. As Democrats in Congress, we often felt like we were drinking water out of a fire hose, trying to simultaneously deal with past failures of the Bush administration and the avalanche of new initiatives from Obama. This lack of focus also made it easy for congressional Republicans to stall and foil many of President Obama’s best initiatives — which they did with relish!

Obama’s ’60 Minutes’ Interview Gives Grading on a Curve New Meaning

By David Limbaugh December 13, 2011 7:30 am

The most disturbing aspect of President Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview is how sincere he sounded when misrepresenting his record. I’m not sure whether I would prefer that he be lying or self-deluded, but there’s plenty of each to go around.

Obama is a left-wing ideologue, a true believer, who is convinced that his agenda is mandated by a superior moral imperative (from who knows where) and that it must be advanced irrespective of the consequences, because no matter how bad they might be, they would have been worse without his agenda.

Indeed, such is his blind faith that his policy failures reinforce rather than shatter his belief system, and he becomes more delusional the more he fails and has to rationalize those failures.

The upshot of his message to his interviewer, Steve Kroft, was that he deserves the highest marks for all “things that don’t have to do with the economy and don’t have to do with Congress.”

So despite his muddled, ad hoc approach to foreign policy: his mistreatment of Israel, his pattern of insulting foreign leaders, his fair-weather support for some democratic movements and betrayal of others (Iran, Honduras), his manifest unpopularity in the Muslim world, and his gutting of our military defenses (F-22, our missile defenses and Europe’s, and our nuclear arsenal) while China, Russia, Iran and others augment theirs, he claims that we are now respected again around the world and that we are stronger.

How about the economy? Well, he thinks that the people will come to see he’s turned things around and saved us from a depression but that it’s going to take a long time for a complete recovery because it took so long to get “us into this mess.” So he believes he’s even performed well on the economy, except a) he would have done even better had it not been for congressional Republicans, b) the people don’t realize how well he’s done because too many are still hurting, c) even if things are bad, it’s Bush’s fault or, if you prefer, it’s because we’re going through an economic disruption that occurs every 75 years, and d) whatever economic problems remain could be solved by pouring yet more money into education, green technology and the infrastructure. (I realize “d” makes less sense than any of them, but that’s what his programmed mind always spits out, no matter the evidence.)

He insists he didn’t overpromise, never mind his promises to find “good jobs for the jobless,” to lower the oceans and keep unemployment at less than 8 percent. He takes credit for bending our health care cost curve down when it is now indisputable already — even before the bulk of it has been implemented — that Obamacare is greatly increasing health care costs.

He said he has offered a “very specific” and “very detailed” deficit reduction plan when everyone paying attention knows he offered generalities, with no real, concrete proposals for actually reducing spending, especially entitlement spending.

He said we could balance the budget by increasing taxes on the wealthy alone. Actually, his statement was more ludicrous than that. He said: “We ended up asking the wealthiest Americans to do a little bit more in terms of taxes. Going back to rates that would still be lower than they were under Ronald Reagan, our deficit problems would be solved.” What? How is it possible we ended up with a chief executive who can make such preposterous assertions? Apart from the Reagan comparison, letting the Bush cuts for the highest income bracket expire would generate only about $70 billion a year (assuming a static economy), which is less than 5 percent of the deficit.

Amazingly, Obama admitted that his party and his base opposed entitlement reforms but that in his magnanimity, he agreed to work on them anyway. Well, that’s big of him, but the truth is that he has steadfastly obstructed such reforms, which means he has steadfastly obstructed any possibility of balancing the budget and getting the national debt under control.

But there’s an explanation for that, which is even more alarming. He doesn’t think the deficit (or debt) is a major problem. He said, “The truth is that compared to other countries around the world, our deficit problems are completely manageable.” That’s why he wants another half-trillion-dollar stimulus.

Lest we think these anomalies are solely because of Obama’s being a true believer rather than a hyper-partisan purveyor of falsehoods, note that he also told Kroft that Republicans are for “rolling back clean air and clean water laws,” want to kill entitlements for seniors, and are focused on scoring political points rather than helping him solve problems; that only a handful of people are succeeding in this “you’re-on-your-own economy”; that he is for broadening the tax base; and that he fully intends to proceed with his agenda through executive and administrative orders in contravention of Congress and the Constitution.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, “Crimes Against Liberty,” was No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction for its first two weeks. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com.

Obama sets 2012 campaign theme: Class warfare

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By Ben Feller and Ken Thomas December 7, 2011 7:28 am

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. (AP) – Declaring the American middle class in jeopardy, President Barack Obama on Tuesday outlined a populist economic vision that will drive his re-election bid, insisting the United States must reclaim its standing as a country in which everyone can prosper if provided “a fair shot and a fair share.”

While never making an overt plea for a second term, Obama’s offered his most comprehensive lines of attack against the candidates seeking to take his job, only a month before Republican voters begin choosing a presidential nominee. He also sought to inject some of the long-overshadowed hope that energized his 2008 campaign, saying: “I believe America is on its way up.”

In small-town Osawatomie, in a high school gym where patriotic bunting lined the bleachers, Obama presented himself as the one fighting for shared sacrifice and success against those who would gut government and let people fend for themselves. He did so knowing the nation is riven over the question of whether economic opportunity for all is evaporating.

“Throughout the country, it’s sparked protests and political movements, from the tea party to the people who’ve been occupying the streets of New York and other cities,” Obama said.

“This is the defining issue of our time,” he said in echoing President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech here in 1910.

“This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class,” Obama said. “At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home and secure their retirement.”

For Obama, saddled with a weak national economic recovery, the speech was a chance to break away from Washington’s incremental battles and his own small-scale executive actions. He offered a sweeping indictment of economic inequality and unleashed his own brand of prairie populism.

He spoke for nearly an hour to a supportive audience, reselling his ideas under the framework of “building a nation where we’re all better off.”

Billed as an important address that would put today’s economic debates in context, Obama’s speech seemed a bit like two packaged into one.

The first was that of the campaigner, full of loft and reclamation of American values. The second was the governing Obama, who recited his familiar jobs agenda, his feud with Congress over extending a Social Security tax cut, even his fight to get his consumer watchdog confirmed.

Obama tied himself to Roosevelt, the president and reformer who came to this town in eastern Kansas and called for a “square deal” for regular Americans. Roosevelt said then the fight for progress was a conflict “between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess.”

It is a theme Obama is embracing in a mounting fight for re-election against Republicans who, regardless of the nominee, will attack his stewardship of the economy.

One of the leading contenders for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney, ridiculed Obama for comparing himself to Roosevelt.

Obama “said that he is like Teddy Roosevelt,” Romney said at a campaign event in Paradise Valley, Ariz. “And I thought, ‘In what way is he like Teddy Roosevelt?’ Teddy Roosevelt of course founded the Bull Moose Party. One of those words applies.”

Kirsten Kukowski, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said, “Maybe instead of trying to be like other presidents, Obama should try being president.”

Obama took aim at the Republicans, saying they would only return the same structures that led to America’s economic downturn. “Their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules,” Obama said. “I’m here to say they are wrong.”

The president conceded that the country is in the midst of a consuming re-examination on his watch, prompting national movements against both government spending and an economy that many feel disproportionately favors the elite. Obama went on the offensive about income equality, saying it distorts democracy and derails the American dream.

Responding to those who want to cut taxes and regulation in the belief success will trickle down, Obama said: “Here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It’s never worked.”

Obama noted that Theodore Roosevelt was called a “radical, a socialist, even a communist” for putting forth ideas in his last campaign such as an eight-hour work day, a minimum wage for women, unemployment insurance and a progressive income tax.

Left unsaid: Roosevelt’s Bull Moose campaign in 1912 failed to return him to the White House.

Obama attempted to sum up the pain and peril for a society where the middle class is struggling. But he also called for individual responsibility.

“In the end,” he said, “rebuilding this economy based on fair play, a fair shot and a fair share will require all of us to see the stake we have in each other’s success.”

Obama also challenged he big banks that took bailouts from American taxpayers, pointing to “a deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street.” He said banks that were bailed out had an obligation to work to close that trust deficit and should be doing more to help remedy past mortgage abuses and assist middle-class taxpayers.


Ben Feller contributed from Washington. AP writers Erica Werner and Kasie Hunt contributed to this report.

Obama, Clinton to world: Support the gay agenda

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By Anne Gearan and Julie Pace December 7, 2011 7:30 am

GENEVA (AP) – The Obama administration bluntly warned the world against gay and lesbian discrimination Tuesday, declaring the U.S. will use foreign assistance as well as diplomacy to back its insistence that gay rights are fully equal to other basic human rights.

In unusually strong language, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton compared the struggle for gay equality to difficult passages toward women’s rights and racial equality, and she said a country’s cultural or religious traditions are no excuse for discrimination.

“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” she said. “It should never be a crime to be gay.”

Clinton’s audience included diplomats from Arab, African and other nations where homosexuality is criminalized or where brutality and discrimination against gay people is tolerated or encouraged.

Many of the ambassadors in the audience responded with stony faces and rushed out of the room as soon as Clinton finished speaking.

President Barack Obama directed the State Department and other agencies to make sure U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote gay rights and fight discrimination. But there are no specific new consequences for poor performers, meaning the directive is more of a challenge to other governments than a threat.

In announcing the policy the U.S. did not point to individual countries with specifically poor records on gay rights, although an annual State Department accounting of global human rights has cited abuses against gays by such friends as Saudi Arabia.

The White House said Tuesday’s announcement marked the first U.S. government strategy to combat human rights abuses against gays and lesbians abroad.

The speech in Geneva, home of the United Nations’ human rights body, is also part of the Obama administration’s outreach to gays and lesbians, a core Democratic constituency at home. Since taking office, Obama has advocated the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members — now accomplished — and has ordered the administration to stop defending a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

However, Obama has stopped short of backing gay marriage, saying only that his personal views on the matter are evolving. That position and a long delay repealing the military ban have left some gay supporters disgruntled.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney suggested that gay rights should not be a test for U.S. engagement abroad.

“I will be looking (at) foreign aid, whether it meets our national security interests and, number two, whether these nations are friends of ours and are willing to be friendly with us in ways when it matters the most,” he said on Fox News Channel.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry went further.

“Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money,” a Perry campaign statement said.

Clinton said she knows the United States has an imperfect record on gay rights, and she noted that until 2003 some states had laws on the books that made gay sex a crime. But there is no reason to suggest that gay rights are something only liberal, Western nations can or should embrace, she said. She said nothing about gay marriage.

“Gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world,” Clinton said. “Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human reality.”

In her most direct challenge to nations with conservative cultural or religious mores, Clinton catalogued abuses such as targeted killings of gays, “corrective rape” of lesbians or forced hormone treatments. She likened the targeting of gays for mistreatment to “honor killings” of women, widow-burning or female genital mutilation, examples of practices the U.S. decries but has not penalized friends including Afghanistan for carrying out.

“Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition,” she said. “But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal.”

She also compared the evolution of cultural attitudes toward homosexuality to the changing view of slavery.

“What was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights,” she said.

The audience included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists who applauded loudly and whooped in approval when Clinton finished.

Some of the diplomats who were invited were unaware of the topic beforehand, and Clinton introduced her subject gingerly. She said she knew it was sensitive and cut against ingrained traditions and expectations.

“Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for the dignity of all citizens and persuading your people to do the same,” she said.

In the memorandum issued in Washington, Obama directed U.S. agencies working abroad, including the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to use foreign aid to assist gays and lesbians who are facing human rights violations. And he ordered U.S. agencies to protect vulnerable gay and lesbian refugees and asylum seekers.

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights,” Obama said in a statement.

Gay rights groups praised the order as a significant step for ensuring that gays and lesbians are treated equally around the world.

“Today’s actions by President Obama make clear that the United States will not turn a blind eye when governments commit or allow abuses to the human rights of LGBT people,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy organization.

Associated Press writer Frank Jordans in Geneva contributed to this report. Pace reported from Washington.

Obamateurism of the Day


Remember when Barack Obama blamed unemployment on ATMs?  Yesterday in Kansas, the President reiterated that a 40-year-old technology that has been in wide usage since he was in college is a cause for unemployment today — and just in case no one buys that, Obama decided to blame another technological advancement, too:

“Layoffs too often became permanent, not part of the business cycle. And these changes didn’t just affect blue collar workers. If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs and the internet,”      President Obama said at a campaign event in Kansas.

RCP also has the video.  Now, my recollection of a good economy and low unemployment may be fuzzy — it’s been a few years — but as I recall, the Internet was in full swing five years ago, when the unemployment rate was 4.4% and the civilian participation rate in the workforce was 66.4%.  The Internet actually provided a marketplace that employed plenty of people back then — and still does today.  And we had quite a few ATMs that year, too.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at obamaisms@edmorrissey.com with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!


Obama admin backs ambassador after anti-Semitism comments

By Bradley Klapper December 6, 2011 7:22 am

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration says it has full confidence in the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, despite comments he made about anti-Semitism that prompted angry responses from Jewish groups and Republicans.

Howard Gutman, who is Jewish and whose father survived the Holocaust, told a European Jewish gathering last week that some hatred of Jews reflected hostility toward Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. He said it was different from traditional anti-Semitism.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday that Gutman would remain in his post.

Toner said Gutman spoke as ambassador, yet expressed his own views. He declined to say if the administration disagreed with those views.

The White House on Saturday condemned anti-Semitism in all forms. Gutman did as well.

Jewish groups expressed outrage. Some Republican presidential candidates have demanded Gutman’s resignation.

Obama’s missed opportunity on the debt

By , Published: December 4

Fred Hiatt

So after all the talk about fiscal balance and responsible choices, the pre-Christmas rush in Washington has come down to this: one more belly-up to the middle-class tax-cut bar.

If, as seems likely, enough Republicans manage to overcome their sometime scruples and join President Obama before last call, Washington will prove once more that bipartisanship is alive and well — as long as it is in the service of digging the deficit hole deeper.

With unemployment at 8.6 percent, extending the payroll tax cut for another year is the right thing to do.

The problem lies in it being the only fiscal accomplishment of the Christmas season.

In principle, Obama has other items on his wish list. He’d like to extend unemployment benefits. Pay for those and the tax cuts, too. Build more roads and keep more teachers and police officers on the job. Even, in theory, reduce the long-term debt. After all, the mantra is short-term stimulus, long-term balance, restore confidence.

But the president has drawn only one line in the sand, issued only one non-negotiable demand, insisted on only one achievement without which he will fight Congress going home for the holidays: extending the payroll tax cut.

His rhetoric risks transforming this giveaway, like so many “temporary” giveaways before it, into something permanent. This one was supposed to be different, because it siphons money from the supposedly sacrosanct Social Security trust fund.

Now, though, Obama says anyone favoring a return to normal is voting for an unconscionable tax hike on the struggling middle class. His logic will fit nicely into Grover Norquist’s narrative a year from now when the Bush tax cuts, including on the wealthy, are due to expire.

I asked an administration official what level of unemployment would justify an end to the Social Security tax break — 7.5 percent? 7 percent? I didn’t get a direct answer. It seems unlikely that anyone, a year from now, will argue that working Americans no longer need a break.

But the official said the problem can be worked out as part of a larger package of tax reform.

Tax reform is the answer to all problems, for Republicans and Democrats alike. We’ll “close the loopholes” and “broaden the base” and “lower the rates.” It sounds terrific, as long as you pretend that the loopholes consist of things such as private jet depreciation, the president’s favorite example and one that costs the government, in the great red-ink scheme of things, almost nothing.

Eventually, though, someone will have to explain to voters that the only way tax reform works is by limiting their deductions for mortgage interest, charitable giving, state and local taxes, and employer-provided health care. At that point it will become savagely clear that one man’s loophole is another man’s birthright.

And it’s not only by increasing the debt that this tax cut makes an eventual solution more difficult. The proposals Congress is considering to “pay for” this cut, meant to prove its fiscal discipline, ironically also make a grand deal more difficult.

Democrats want to increases taxes on million-dollar earners; Republicans want to charge high earners more for Medicare. In an age of growing inequality and out-of-control entitlement spending, both measures may make sense, but both will be needed in the hard bargaining ahead. Commit 10 years of them now for a one-year shot in the arm, and the bargaining gets that much tougher.

The economy still needs stimulus, and Obama is hardly the first incumbent to want to give voters a present as he gears up for reelection. Fifteen hundred dollars in each of our pockets will be a handy conversation-opener on the campaign trail, for the president and members of Congress alike.

That’s good politics.

Drawing one additional line in the sand, for at least a down payment on the long-term debt, would have been good leadership.

That true leadership also might make for good politics is a chance that, so far, no one has been willing to take.


Obama Unlikely to Harness Political Credit From 8.6 Unemployment Rate

Dec 2, 2011 12:50 PM EST

The U.S. jobless rate fell to 8.6 percent in November. It’s a sizable reduction, but it’s still not low enough for the president to get some credit. Daniel Stone reports.

It’s the number that drives Washington, and on Friday, offered some welcome wind at the back of President Obama.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced on the traditional first Friday of the month that the unemployment rate in November had dropped to 8.6 percent from 9.0, a statistical blip that translates to about 120,000 Americans who have new jobs.

One unfortunate caveat in otherwise good news is that joblessness hasn’t just gone down. Half of Friday’s drop was because of new jobs added, and the other half because about 315,000 people stopped looking for work, which means they’re still unemployed, just no longer counted in the labor force.

But does the optic of a lower number help Obama make his argument that his policies are working?

“The president can take a little comfort in these numbers, but if I were in his shoes I wouldn’t go too far out on that limb,” says Nariman Behravesh, chief economist with IHS Inc. “If the number drops because people are discouraged, that’s not a good sign.”

It’s also unlikely to numb any of the criticism coming from Republican presidential candidates, who in past months have dinged Obama for a 9-percent rate—and during August, creating zero net jobs. Frontrunner Mitt Romney was nonplussed by Friday’s news, pointing out that unemployment has been above 8 percent for 34 months, almost exactly the length of Obama’s presidency.

“The Obama administration may have come to accept such a high level of joblessness as the new normal. I will never accept it,” Romney said in a statement released by his campaign before the White House could even release its prepared remarks.

There’s reason to believe the depressed unemployment rate could still go right back up in the months ahead–specifically after the holiday spending binge, when campaign 2012 heats up. One is the continued reluctance of many companies to hire, and the other is the spiraling European debt crisis, which is entirely out of U.S. control but still holding substantial influence over American markets.

“The president can take a little comfort in these numbers, but if I were in his shoes I wouldn’t go too far out on that limb.”

“This fragile growth now faces fierce headwinds, with austerity in Europe and Great Britain driving those economies into recession,” says Robert Borosage, director of the left-leaning advocacy group Campaign for America’s Future. “The financial crisis in Europe will impact zombie banks in the United States.”

The White House knows that one month’s numbers don’t necessarily make or break a political argument, especially considering that the BLS frequently revises data from past months to reflect economic dynamics that are hard to quickly measure.

Yet Alan Krueger, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, dusted off on Friday what’s been a frequent administration refrain—and likely to be Obama’s best argument for reelection next year.

“Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” Krueger said in a written statement. “But the pace of improvement is still not fast enough.”

Political translation: we’ve still got lots to do, but come on, give us some credit.

Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.

Daniel Stone is Newsweek‘s White House correspondent. He also covers national energy and environmental policy.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast ateditorial@thedailybeast.com.


Accusing Obama of Putting Politics Above Jobs, GOP Senators Introduce Keystone Bill

By Penny Starr

November 30, 2011

(Update: Adds State Department statement.)

(CNSNews.com) – Senate Republicans have introduced legislation that would direct the State Department to issue permits to begin construction of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL crude oil pipeline from Canada to U.S. refineries – a project they say will create 20,000 jobs, increase domestic energy security and generate revenue.

“Jobs will be created right away and billions of dollars in investment will be unleashed through legislation introduced to permit the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, the largest infrastructure project ready in the United States, to commence construction,” Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) told a press conference on Wednesday.

Lugar, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is lead sponsor of the new North American Energy Security Act.

In a jab to President Obama’s promotion of creating jobs through new or improved infrastructure and “shovel-ready” projects, the GOP senators said the pipeline qualifies as both. Obama’s decision to delay the approval process until after the 2012 election is putting politics above job creation, they charged.

“There is absolutely no reason to delay a permit decision on the Keystone pipeline – and the jobs that come with it – for another year in a blatant attempt to appease the president’s political base,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at the conference.

Because the project involves a foreign country, the State Department has jurisdiction over the permitting process.

Following a three-year federal review of the final Environmental Impact Statement a decision had been expected by the end of the year, but the administration last month delayed the decision until after next year’s election. The senators attributed the decision to pressure from environmentalist groups opposed to the pipeline.

Sen. Mike Johanns Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) said the bill addresses a change in the pipeline path through a sensitive environmental area in his state while continuing construction of the pipeline elsewhere. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

The newly-introduced bill does address environmental concerns in Nebraska, whose state legislature recently approved a plan to amend some of the project’s route while not delaying construction elsewhere.

“This bill respects the Nebraska process to protect the Sand Hills while providing a commonsense approach to bring friendly oil and jobs to the U.S. without unnecessary delay,” said Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.).

The lawmakers said the pipeline could reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil by bringing as much as 700,000 barrels of oil a day into the country from Canada.

Aside from jobs directly created in construction and pipeline operation, the private sector project is expected also to boost economic growth for the more than 1,400 U.S. companies that sell products and services for oil sands production and transport.

So far, the bill has 37 Republicans sponsors, but it faces an uncertain future in a Democrat-controlled Senate.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner did not have an immediate response Wednesday to the Keystone bill, but told a press briefing, “we continue to work closely and consult closely with Congress as we move forward in conducting our study and our assessment.”

Toner later issued the following statement: “The Department remains committed to ensuring a transparent, thorough and rigorous review of whether the proposed pipeline project is in the national interest. Consistent with Executive Order 13337, after consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, we determined it is necessary to specifically assess alternative routes around the environmentally sensitive Nebraska Sand Hills. Based on past experience and possible total mileage of alternative routes that would need to be reviewed, we anticipate the evaluation could conclude as early as the first quarter of 2013. We look forward to continuing to consult with Congress as this process moves forward.”

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