Over the past five years Republicans have opposed any and every attempt by President Obama to jump start the economy; particularly when it came to creating jobs. He also made, what Americans concerned about anthropogenic (manmade) climate change believed were, modest proposals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; that is until he called for a thirty percent reduction in carbon emissions earlier this year. Republicans reacted to that news with their typical fossil fuel industry devotion by launching vicious attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency tasked with ensuring power-generating plants’ comply with the new requirements.
Yesterday, in one fell swoop, the President took decisive action to address both job creation for Veterans and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The White House announced that beginning this fall the United States will launch a six-year job training program for America’s Veterans in the growing solar panel installation industry. Since Republicans have relentlessly obstructed jobs programs for America’s Veterans, the President took it upon himself to enact the program at American military bases and provide job training for at least 50,000 veterans. It is training for about 50,000 more Veterans than Republicans have provided despite several proposals and requests by the President to help America’s fighting men and women returning from war.
The Veterans’ job training program is just one of many initiatives the White House said will reduce carbon dioxide emissions contributing to climate change by more than 300-million tons, and save American homeowners and businesses billions upon billions of dollars in energy bills. To create even more jobs, as part of the President’s lone crusade to reduce the damaging effects of climate change, the Agriculture Department will spend nearly $70 million to fund 540 new solar and renewable energy projects that will target rural and farming areas. There is also a new Energy Department proposal for stricter efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners the energy department said will cut emissions more than any other efficiency standard it has issued to date, and help businesses cut their energy costs substantially.
It is true the President’s proposals to create jobs and reduce the effects of climate change are modest compared with his previous requests for Congress to act, but with Republicans opposing any action on jobs, especially for Veterans, or to address climate change, something is better than nothing. This President has begged, cajoled, and attempted to shame Republicans in Congress to do their jobs for the American people and promote cost-saving clean energy, invest in job-creating infrastructure projects, and support carbon emission reductions to no avail, so Obama exercised his Presidential authority and addressed two issues at once.
It is certain the Koch brothers will direct Republicans to launch an opposition campaign against both the Veteran’s job program and clean energy proposals. Through ALEC and the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, there has been a multi-faceted assault on any renewable or clean energy programs across the nation because the Koch’s will not tolerate any energy source that cuts into the oil industry’s profits. In fact, it was reported yesterday that in Texas, the state’s Republican comptroller said it is unfair that the wind energy industry received tax credits to grow the industry. Susan Combs singled out wind energy and said tax credits gave the industry “an unfair market advantage over the other power source.” Translation; the fossil fuel industry will not countenance competition despite its “unfair market advantage” amounting to billions-of-dollars in tax credits, billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies, and freedom to pollute.
What is typically Republican about Combs remarks is the lie that cheaper energy costs and clean energy adversely affects Texas residents’ wallets. What Texas Republicans and the oil industry did not find unfair were tax exemptions covering the “high-cost natural gas drilling” that cut operators tax bills by more than $7 billion according to data from Republican Combs’ own comptroller office. Combs also failed to address the Texas state Legislative Budget Board’s recommendation to overhaul oil industry tax breaks and taxpayer-funded incentives that have “reduced many producers’ tax liabilities to zero.” Interestingly, a partner in an oil industry firm in Austin said that having a zero tax liability was being “misconstrued by the folks that would do harm to the oil and gas industry as a giveaway, but it’s really not.”
President Obama’s one-man action on climate change and a much-needed job training program for over 50,000 Veterans, although modest, is something the Koch-Republicans are not going to allow without a fierce battle. It is noteworthy that the President’s action will not only help 50,000 Veterans, solar energy installed at military bases and installations will save the Defense Department untold billions of dollars in energy costs now and into the future that one would think budget conscious Republicans would celebrate. However, they have shown that where the fossil fuel industry is concerned, cost savings and budget restraint never enters into their austerity agenda.
Republicans have spent over five years demonstrating they are not the least bit interested in providing job training or jobs for any Americans, much less Veterans because they claim it is too costly. Subsidies, tax breaks, and incentives for the oil industry, on the other hand, are a necessary cost in Republicans’ minds. That’s why the President’s idea of a job training program specific to the renewable energy sector is brilliant; if for no other reason than to send Republicans a message that this President is serious about taking care of Veterans, creating jobs, and combatting climate change whether they like it or not.