Solyndra, Oil Pipeline Show Obama's 'Misguided' Priorities

Sunday, 04 Dec 2011 02:38 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Solyndra, Oil Pipeline Show Obama's 'Misguided' Priorities
2. Most U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Killed on Pakistan Border
3. Report: Obamacare Will Leave Many Uninsured
4. Honolulu, San Francisco Top 'Quality of Living' List
5. We Heard: Donald Trump, EPA, Presidential Election Fund
 

1. Solyndra, Oil Pipeline Show Obama's 'Misguided' Priorities

The Obama administration's handling of two recent controversies — solar panel maker Solyndra and the Keystone XL pipeline — illustrates a misguided approach to energy-related issues, according to an energy expert.

The administration has announced that it will delay for a year a final decision on construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring much-needed oil from Canada to Texas and the Gulf of Mexico.

At the same time, the administration is under fire for using its influence to help Solyndra obtain a $529 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The company declared bankruptcy and folded in September.

"Even a cursory look at the two deals shows that, once again, the Obama administration's energy priorities are — how to put this charitably? — misguided," writes Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future."

In an article appearing in National Review Online, Bryce writes that unlike Solyndra, the $13 billion Keystone project does not depend on federal loan guarantees or tax credits from the federal government, and it would improve America's access to a secure flow of oil.

The pipeline would reportedly create some 13,000 construction jobs in the United States, and indirectly create 7,000 manufacturing jobs — while Solyndra axed 1,100 workers when it went bankrupt.

The pipeline would supply the U.S. with 700,000 barrels of oil each day, enough to generate 380,000 megawatt-hours of electricity daily, according to Bryce.

Meanwhile, all the solar panels in the country, plus all the wind turbines, last year produced 260,000 million megawatt-hours per day.

"Put another way, the Keystone XL pipeline by itself, if it ever gets federal approval — and assuming, of course, that the Canadians don't decide to build a pipeline to the coast and ship their oil to China or elsewhere — would have provided about 46 percent more energy to the U.S. economy than all the solar panels and wind turbines in the country did in 2010," Bryce points out.

The Obama administration and its supporters assert that the future belongs to renewables and to companies like Solyndra, Bryce says, adding: "By delaying the Keystone XL, Obama has shown that he's more interested in political maneuvering than in providing cheap, abundant, reliable energy to U.S. consumers."

Editor's Note:



2. Most U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Killed on Pakistan Border

Pakistan objected furiously when a NATO airstrike along its border with Afghanistan killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on Nov. 26, while NATO claimed the attack came after a U.S.-Afghan patrol came under fire.

Now a report discloses that the overwhelmingly majority of U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan have in fact come along that border.

The CNS News report shows that a total of 1,527 American troops have died while engaged in combat in Afghanistan, and 1,089 of them — 71 percent — died in the 10 Afghan provinces that border Pakistan.

That compares to 438 combat deaths in all of Afghanistan’s other 24 provinces.

Including non-combat deaths, 1,168 Americans have died in Afghanistan’s border provinces as of Nov. 30, according to CNS News.

Since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, at least 1,172 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan, accounting for 67 percent of the total casualties in the 10-year-long war.

In September, in his last congressional testimony before retiring, then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen accused Pakistan of “exporting violence” to Afghanistan.

And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who testified with Mullen, said “we simply cannot allow terrorists to be able to go into Afghanistan, attack our forces, and then return to Pakistan for safe haven and not face any kind of pressure from the Pakistanis for that to stop.”

Editor's Note:



3. Report: Obamacare Will Leave Many Uninsured

A little-known provision of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will likely have several unforeseen — and unpleasant — consequences, according to a troubling new report.

The provision would raise the cost of healthcare insurance for many low- or middle-income families and even make it completely unaffordable for them.

Under Obamacare, companies with more than 49 employees must offer “affordable” health insurance to full-time workers or pay a penalty of up to $3,000 per employee. But affordable coverage can be for the employee only, not family members.
 
The Act requires employees to accept this insurance. And if a family member has this coverage, the rest of the family will not be eligible for a federal subsidy of the premium it must pay for a policy, according to Diana Furchtgott-Roth, contributing editor of RealClearMarkets.

She points to a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper from researchers at Cornell University and Indiana University showing that in 2014, when Obamacare will take full effect, 13 million low-income Americans may be unable to get subsidized health insurance through new state healthcare exchanges because one family member has employee-provided coverage.

And those Americans who can therefore not afford coverage would remain uninsured and receive their care from emergency rooms and community centers, as they often do today.

The provision, then, “has a number of consequences, none of them foreseen by the architects of the Act,” Furchtgott-Roth writes.

Employees with dependents will prefer to work for companies that do not provide health insurance so that they can qualify for coverage through the healthcare exchange. For a four-person family at 133 percent of the poverty line earning $28,000 a year, premiums will be capped at 2 percent of income.

That same family would have to pay 43 percent of its income for coverage without government subsidies, which makes coverage clearly unaffordable.

One more consequence: The provision would discourage marriage. If one partner receives affordable healthcare insurance from an employer, the spouse would not be eligible for subsidized coverage. The couple could therefore remain unwed to avoid that problem.

“Congress needs to address this problem,” the author concludes. “Even if the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the healthcare law will remain costly, inefficient, and in need of reform.”

Editor's Note:



4. Honolulu, San Francisco Top ‘Quality of Living’ List

The British consulting firm Mercer has released the results of its annual “Quality of Living” index, and Honolulu and San Francisco are the highest-ranked American cities on the list.

However, Honolulu ranks only No. 29 and San Francisco No. 30 on the list of 221 cities, with European cities dominating the top of the list — with the Middle East and Africa at the bottom.

Worst overall quality of living: Baghdad, Iraq.

Mercer considers a number of factors when compiling its index, including political and social environment, economic environment, health and sanitation, transportation, recreation, housing and natural environment.

No. 1 on the list is Vienna, Austria, followed by Zurich, Switzerland; Auckland, New Zealand; Munich, Germany; Dusseldorf, Germany; and Vancouver, Canada.

Other American cities on the top 50 list are Boston (No. 36), Chicago and Washington (tied at 43), New York (47), and Pittsburgh (49).

In addition to Baghdad at No. 221, other cities at the bottom of the list include Khartoum, Sudan; N’Djamena, Chad; and Bangui, Central Africa Republic.

The highest-ranked city in Asia is Dubai, at No. 74. Tel Aviv is at No. 99.

Mercer also compiles an annual index of cities based on their “Personal Safety Ranking.” Luxembourg tops the list, followed by Bern, Switzerland; Helsinki, Finland; Zurich, Switzerland; and Vienna, Austria.

No American cities are in the top 50, but Canada has five cities in the top 17.

Baghdad is last again.

Editor's Note:



5. We Heard . . .

THAT Donald Trump’s organization is the largest privately held company in the New York metropolitan area.

The Trump Organization had estimated 2010 revenues of $9.2 billion, with 20,300 employees and interests in real estate development, hotels, casinos, golf courses, entertainment and product licensing, according to Crain’s New York Business.

The publication reported that it ranked New York-area companies that are “independent, privately held entities with no parent. Nonprofits, hospitals, mutual companies, travel agencies and partnerships — including accounting firms, law firms, and consulting firms — are excluded.”

The petrochemical firm Transammonia Inc. was second on the list with $8.4 billion in revenues last year. Also in the top 10 was business news provider Bloomberg LP (No. 4 with $6.9 billion).

THAT a policy expert smells a rat in the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to ban 20 rodent control products.

The EPA claims the poisons are dangerous because they use loose bait and are sold for use in homes where children and pets can come into contact with them.

But H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, says the proposed ban is another example of the federal government unnecessarily exercising its authority.

“When it comes to consumer choice, government’s role should be nothing more than informational,” he says. “These pesticides keep foods sanitary while in the home. If we didn’t have them, we would all be at risk from rats and other vermin spreading disease.”

THAT if Republicans have their way, taxpayers won’t get to check a box on their federal tax returns to indicate that they do or don’t want to contribute to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

The House voted on Thursday to terminate the fund and shut down the Election Assistance Commission, a national clearinghouse on the mechanics of voting, Roll Call reported.

The bill would reduce the deficit by $199 million immediately and by $480 million over five years, according to bill sponsor Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid maintains that the bill won’t pass in the Senate.

 

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