The United States is facing a second recession because of soaring gas prices under the Obama administration's inept energy policies, one of the House's leading experts on energy policy tells Newsmax.
And Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, the influential chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, says that President Barack Obama likely will look back on soaring prices at the pumps as the reason the American people sent him packing after one term.
“If President Obama is not re-elected I think he will look back at this issue as the defining issue as to whether or not he actually made it,” said Upton in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
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The American people are hurting “big time now,” he said, having observed $4 per gallon prices starting to appear in his own district. “Often you’re pumping $75, even $80 bucks worth of gas into a car,” he explained. “It is — has the real threat of crippling — serving as a dagger to the recovery of our economic state, certainly back in the Midwest.”
There is a danger that the soaring gas prices will trigger another recession and America’s fragile economic recovery will simply slip away.
“Well I think that it could,” said Upton, whose Great Lakes State was among the hardest hit in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
“We were harder hit than almost any other state — 38 consecutive months of double digit unemployment,” he explained. “Things finally seem to be going a little bit better. Our small mom-and-pop tool and die shops, even larger companies, are beginning to hire back folks. It’s been very encouraging but these gas prices — I mean there is a steady daily reminder of how this could be a very negative impact on that recovery.”
Meanwhile, President Obama continues to block the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline that would create jobs and promote energy independence for the United States.
The United States consumes 18 to 19 million barrels of oil every day, while producing only 7 or 8 million.
“This last year on federal lands we produced 100 million barrels less than the year before. So whereas the president will say, ‘let’s think about SPR, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, let’s go to Saudi Arabia and tell them to encourage more production,’ we’re not doing that here, particularly not on federal lands,” he said.
“That’s why this issue of the Keystone pipeline is so important because not only will it create lots of jobs building the pipeline — refineries all of that — it also will bring about perhaps as much as 1 million barrels a day by the end of the decade if we get that built,” he said. “And if we don’t get it built here, guess what? It’s going to China.”
Upton insisted that Republicans in both the Senate and House will do everything possible to get the project moving. He acknowledged that the Senate came within four votes — and two if you count Republicans who had pressing reasons to miss the vote — of being able to force the president to render a decision more quickly on the pipeline.
“We’re going to try everything we can to get a positive decision on this,” he declared. “We in the House now have made the Keystone pipeline part of the Highway and Infrastructure Bill. It’s likely to get concluded we hope before month’s end. And at that point — though the Senate doesn’t have it and we do — we’ll begin to negotiate the differences between the two sides.”
Upton believes that the United States should send a signal that Canada is a friend and ally. “This is a national security issue and you know you can’t get rid of fossil fuels like that. This is nearly a million barrels a day,” he insisted.
“We have to send a signal not only to Canada, but also to the rest of the world that we’re ready to do whatever it takes and all of the above strategy to begin to prepare an energy independent message for this continent — for North America — on all forms of energy whether they be clean coal, safe nuclear, natural gas, renewables like wind and solar, and in fact fossil fuels.”
Upton said that the United States needs to look at all forms of energy to truly compete in the global marketplace.
Friday also marks the anniversary of Obamacare and Upton said that it is likely the House will vote to repeal implementation of a key component of the president’s healthcare law — the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) — as early as today or tomorrow.
Under the 2010 healthcare overhaul, the IPAB could draft reductions to Medicare payments for doctors, hospitals and other providers without congressional approval.
“I do expect this bill to pass the House. We actually passed this bill in our committee on a voice vote just a week or so ago,” Upton said. “This is government takeover of healthcare. That’s what Obamacare is. And Americans across the board enjoy the relationship that they have with their own physician. That is taken away with Obamacare, which is one of the reasons why it still has a very high negative approval rating by the American public.”
He said that the IPAB amounts to 15 unelected bureaucrats making decisions on healthcare for American families.
The Supreme Court is also expected to hear oral arguments next week over the constitutionality of the individual mandate included in Obamacare. Upton hopes that the justices will strike it down.
“I do believe that it’s unconstitutional,” he explained. “It’s expected to be a very close decision, probably announced just prior to the Fourth of July.
We’ll see what happens. I think the arguments have been made by a good number of states that in fact the individual mandate is certainly unconstitutional.”
While Upton called Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan unveiled on Tuesday an “outstanding job,” he said that the real problem is the Democrat-controlled Senate.
“The real difficulty is that the Senate has not done so in more than 1,000 days — in essence three years,” Upton said. “This budget tackles some very tough questions. You can’t ever get to a balanced budget without some reforms on the entitlements — Medicare, Medicaid and even Social Security. They need to be smart ones. I think the Ryan budget will do that. We also need tax reform. This is something that has not been tackled in earnest really since the early ‘80s.”
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