U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy tells Newsmax.TV that President Barack Obama’s reticence to allow the Keystone oil pipeline project to proceed stems from the fact that the people who will benefit most live in so-called “fly-over” states that are not critical to his re-election.
“If the president actually looks at the states that would benefit he’d probably have a different perspective,” says the Louisiana Republican, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “But, instead his political base is along the coast.”
Cassidy says that proponents of the project include labor unions and trade associations — groups that understand the potential the project has to put Americans back to work in jobs that won’t be outsourced.
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“If you want to look at a jobs program that is targeted to the people most suffering now, it’s going to be those blue-collar workers that will be involved in this project from start to finish,” Cassidy insists.
He says that blue-collar workers have been disproportionately affected by the difficult economy and stand to gain the most from the Keystone project
‘It increases mining, oil extraction, which although it’s in Canada, will employ American workers,” says Cassidy, adding that the project will create demand for steel and construction as well as benefitting petrochemical plants along the hard-hit Gulf Coast.
His home state is also well positioned to take advantage of demand for vehicles that run on compressed natural gas. “The advantages for Louisiana are the advantages for the entire nation,” he says, noting that natural gas burns cleaner than coal, creates jobs for Americans and boosts the U.S. economy.
What’s more, production of natural gas locked in shale will double by 2035, helping the U.S. become less reliant on imported energy, according to a federal agency forecast.
“By definition, domestic oil and gas production cannot be shipped overseas. It is domestic,” he says. “There’s been 800,000 to 900,000 jobs created in the last two years in the domestic oil and gas industry and that’s principally from shale gas. It is also decreasing our dependence upon foreign energy sources.”
Cassidy, a physician, who has been a vociferous opponent of Obamacare, believes that as much as 40 percent of the population of his home state and 20-30 percent of all Americans will be on Medicaid in five years as a result of Obamacare.
“It is going to put a Washington bureaucrat effectively in the exam room, if you will, of every patient and every physician who is on a government-sponsored healthcare plan,” he predicts.
His own experience working in a hospital setting with uninsured patients convinced him that patients fare better when they have control of their own destiny.
“I’ve learned that if the government has the control then typically there is inadequate resources, that there is longer lines and that the technology is not quite up to date,” he says.
“I’ve learned that if the patient is in control — if the patient has the power — then typically she makes the best decisions for her health and she makes the best decisions for her pocketbook and in both ways we win,” says Cassidy.
He points to a case of a Michigan cancer patient, who died within days of being discharged by her doctor because the doctor was losing money on her government-reimbursed treatment.
“I’m not saying everybody on Medicaid dies,” says Cassidy. “That’s not what I’m saying. But what I am saying is that government-run healthcare like Medicaid typically over promises and under funds, and the patient is the one that suffers.”
Like many Republicans, Cassidy is also concerned that critical healthcare decisions with respect to coverage essentially will be decided by 17 unelected bureaucrats.
“Inevitably there will be arbitrary decisions that are made that will be different than what might be the right decision according to that particular patient and that particular physician,” he says.
While the most important provisions of Obamacare have yet to take effect, the new law will impact all Americans, and represents an incursion upon personal freedoms, says Cassidy.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court will most likely decide whether government has overstepped its remit, he adds.
“As someone said, ‘if can regulate this, can you force me to eat asparagus?’ And the answer is, logically yes. If I don’t want to eat asparagus, but there’s a law that says I must then I must.”
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