Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 12, 2009

BEHOLD, THE 'NO COST STIMULUS'.... If you missed last night's episode of Sean Hannity's Fox News show, you missed a fascinating "discussion" between Hannity, Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). As the Fox News personality explained, Shadegg and Vitter have come up with a "stimulus" plan that costs "zero dollars," and "promises to create two million new jobs without any of your money."

Shadegg explained this visionary approach to economic growth:

"With unemployment rates going up how can we produce American jobs? And the answer is we have had a non-energy policy in this country for a very long time. The reality is we are giving jobs to oil fieldworkers and natural gas fieldworkers in Russia and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, when we should be putting those people to work here in the United States.

"Now Senator Vitter and I have drafted a bill that says let's put Americans to work, let's pursue the fight we had last summer of an all of the above energy strategy, let's clear the bureaucracy out of the way, and let's move forward with American jobs, producing American energy.... And we can also reduce the absurd regulations that go way too far."

And from there, the three of them spent the rest of the interview trying to undermine confidence in the economy, bashing Nancy Pelosi, and questioning the concept of economic stimulus.

It was one of those odd interviews in which members of Congress present a "plan" without actually talking about -- or even hearing any questions on -- what the "plan" is.

Apparently, Shadegg and Vitter, two of Congress' most right-wing members, believe they can address the severe, global economic downturn and create 2 million jobs by opening up additional coastal areas for oil drilling and stripping oil companies of federal regulations. This is their "stimulus" plan. They're so proud of it, they went on national television to boast about their ingenuity.

I'm reminded of something Matt Yglesias said the other day that bears repeating:

Something I think most liberals don't understand is exactly how stupid many conservative leaders are. There is, yes, a condescending tendency to believe that no smart person could be on the right ideologically at all. That's dead wrong. There are plenty of bright people on the right. But the way their movement works, intelligence or understanding of politics and policy has no meaningful role in advancement. If anything, there's something of a negative correlation between knowing what you're talking about and being able to get ahead in right-wing politics.

Matt was referring to another far-right lawmaker promoting "Atlas Shrugged," but it's a sentiment with broad applicability.

Steve Benen 2:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

OK, instead of just calling them "stupid" why don't you explain why the idea of expanding energy production in the United States won't create jobs?

Posted by: Wrecktum on March 12, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

When you decide to build your party out of a modern version of the Know-Nothings, it's beneficial to know nothing.

I've found it amusing reading sites like Ruffini's where he says sensible things only to be taken down by his wingnut commenters.

Posted by: jayackroyd on March 12, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

When I hear Vitter had a "stimulus plan," I expected something a little more, well, shall we say "entertaining" than boilerplate about drilling and regulations. The Senator has experience in putting people to work in new jobs (albeit old professions) and I'd hoped he would draw on that expertise.

Posted by: seriously on March 12, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

There goes Vitter, wanting to choke the federal chicken, flogging his log of stimulus complaints, throwing his ideas around like a real tosser (sorry for the Brit-speak), beating his fantasy-based economic meat.

Posted by: Cho on March 12, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Wrecktum said:
OK, instead of just calling them "stupid" why don't you explain why the idea of expanding energy production in the United States won't create jobs?

Well, there's the tiny problem that there's not an oil platform anywhere in the world available for the next five years.

But if you solved that little problem, Shadegg and Vitter's plan actually would create 2 million new jobs. Several thousand workers would be hired to work on the platforms. And nearly two million people would be needed for the environmental cleanups that would result from deregulating the oil companies.

Posted by: Damn_near_killed_um on March 12, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

It won't create 2,000,000 jobs at no cost to anyone, I can tell you that, unless you think that everything involved with drilling is free.

Posted by: Personal Failure on March 12, 2009 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I wish to apologize...

During the bulk of the Bush admin years I claimed that "competence counts" as reason to not support Bush.

What I believe now is the 'money quote' from Bush is "The best form of government is a dictatorship, as I long as I am the dictator."

With the ongoing flow of information about the lawlessness of Bush-Cheney and with the idiocy of the current round of rethug spokesmen, it is a damn good thing that they are all incompetent!

Posted by: SadOldVet on March 12, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

There are plenty of bright people on the right. - Yglesias

I hate it when liberals make these specious claims.

Posted by: Danp on March 12, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Vitter is not the best person to be screaming "Drill, baby, drill."

Posted by: gradysu on March 12, 2009 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I’ve occasionally thought, over the past several years, that liberals are generally more intelligent, in terms of abstract reasoning abilities, than conservatives are. Conservatives seem to direct their comments online more to like-minded thinkers, rather than seek challengers. When the conservative isn’t demonstrably unintelligent, he might be imprisoned by his principles, especially when the principles are based on religious beliefs. If successfully challenging his principles is successfully challenging his belief in his religion, the existence of God, the basis for his ethics and morality, and the hope of an afterlife, one can see why he would shift his views to avoid conflicts with his principles, even when doing so seems foolish to outside observers.

Behaving atheistically or agnostically might be considered behaving immorally by conservatives, but following the Golden Rule doesn’t require devotion to religion. Research has shown that primates can be altruistic, after all. Human nature and impulses can be controlled more readily than conservatives might believe.

SRS

Posted by: Synsidar on March 12, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

We don't even have enough oil drilling rigs to do it, nor do we have 2 million oil field workers needing a job. I guess we could retrain programmers, teachers and construction workers from across the country and ship 'em down to Louisiana.

Or why not a personal oil rig so everyone can drill in their backyard.

Posted by: tomj on March 12, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Question Hannity could have asked: why would oil companies bother with more drilling when prices are so low that they're cutting their own workforces?

Posted by: Grumpy on March 12, 2009 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

They could have had a more substantive discussion comparing prostitution services. At least one of them would know what he was talking about, as opposed to none.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on March 12, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Should the proposal from Shadegg and Vitter be construed as a rejection of RNC chair Michael Steele's assertion that the government (or government policy) never created a job? (Though as a candidate for Maryland governor, Steele claimed the and governeor Bobby-haircut created scores of thousands of jobs in the state. And lieutenant governor is a paid job. Correct?

Posted by: Tec619 on March 12, 2009 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Synsidar, what about liberals who happen to be religious?

Posted by: mudwall jackson on March 12, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

No, not "some of the best"! It is the best.

Posted by: ElphageT on March 12, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

The reality is we are giving jobs to oil fieldworkers and natural gas fieldworkers in Russia and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, when we should be putting those people to work here in the United States.

If we put Russian, Saudi Arabian and Venezuelan oil field workers and natural gas field workers to work here in the United States, won't that just take away those jobs from Americans.....?

Posted by: Stefan on March 12, 2009 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt that liberals who have religious beliefs try to force others to live by them. One can believe in God wholeheartedly while also believing that, if his fate isn’t preordained, he can best uphold his beliefs by following the Golden Rule -- not causing harm to others.

Even in debates on economic and social issues, where religious beliefs aren’t directly at issue, one will see conservatives basing their arguments strictly on principles. Their views of reality are shaped by the principles that a free market is best, lower taxes are always better, homosexuality is perverse and should be condemned, etc. At times, it’s difficult to tell whether a conservative speaker is mouthing talking points because he knows little about the issue at hand, and the talking points are all he has, or he’s shaping his beliefs to fit his principles -- but simplistic principles foster simplistic beliefs.

SRS

Posted by: Synsidar on March 12, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

a fascinating "discussion" between Hannity, Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).

Jesus, I'm suprised that amount of sheer wingnut malicious stupidity concentrated in one place didn't spark an explosion. It would take a stronger man than I to sit through it.

"Now Senator Vitter and I have drafted a bill that says let's put Americans to work, let's pursue the fight we had last summer of an all of the above energy strategy, let's clear the bureaucracy out of the way, and let's move forward with American jobs, producing American energy.... And we can also reduce the absurd regulations that go way too far."

Weren't the Republicans just complaining this very week that President Obama shouldn't do anything about a new energy policy because that would somehow distract him from the economy? (As if energy wasn't part of the economy). And yet here suddenly their prescription for the economy is -- taa daa! -- a new energy policy.

Posted by: Stefan on March 12, 2009 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, if we could just lop off the tops of enough mountains, why, there'd be two jobs for every American.

Sheesh.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on March 12, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

the "no-cost stimulus."

the underpants gnomes strike again!

Posted by: mellowjohn on March 12, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Wrecktum asked:
OK, instead of just calling them "stupid" why don't you explain why the idea of expanding energy production in the United States won't create jobs?

Because it´s not so easy?
Look, what you normally have are geological surveys for different areas. And so a geologist can tell an oil company that a survey found a geological formation which looks like it could contain oil or natural gas (because they found it in similar formations in other regions).

If that possible "deposit" looks large enough, the oil company will send an exploration team there. They´ll conduct several exploration drillings to find out:
a) Is there oil
b) How large is the deposit
c) What´s the quality of the oil
d) How easy/hard is it to get the oil out?
(Low or high viscosity oil, do they need additional equipment like water or gas injection to force the oil out)

That alone will take years and - at best - employ perhaps several thousand specialized workers.

With all the data the oil company will then decide if it´s profitable to really start drilling there.
They´ll ask themselves:
What are the initial up-front expenses and the normal yearly production expenses?
And compare that with:
How much oil can we get out per year and what will be the price of oil in the next years?

And if they decide that a project isn´t profitable below an oil price of $80 they simply won´t drill NOW if they believe the oil price will stay below $80 for the next years.

And even if they decide to drill now (because that new oil field is profitable at todays prices), they won´t need any former sales people or mortgage brokers which are unemployed right now. What they´ll need are a few hundred or thousand specialized workers. Especially if you talk about offshore drilling.

By the way, did you know that according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, around "136,000 [wage and salary jobs] in oil and gas extraction" existed in the USA in 2006?
Even if you can boost that number a bit, there is just no way you will get two million new jobs!

Posted by: Detlef on March 12, 2009 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Shadegg and Vitter are simply doing what they've always done: advancing the interests of big oil companies in the guise of "doing their jobs" as public servants. And from that point of view, what they said makes perfect sense. The "stupid" is that they think we're still falling for it.

Posted by: dalloway on March 12, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

"They're so proud of it, they went on national television to boast about their ingenuity."

As if those morons could come up with that plan. I would say a few powerful lobbyists came up with the plan and let the Congressmen take the "credit".

That, by the way, is the fucken stupidest idea I have ever heard, seriously, more drilling, more deregulation, and I assume lower taxes for BigOil ??

Posted by: ScottW on March 12, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I am late to the conversation and others have adebtly pointed out that:

A) Completely unregulated on and offshore drilling would not generate 2M jobs from a base of 136k jobs. Thats almost a 1,500% increase in the drilling workforce.

B) Oil is too cheap to justify drilling in many places, so the oil companies just won't do it.

C) Even if it were profitable, it would take years before the sites could be surveyed to the point where drilling could begin.

D) If the oil companies were unregulated, they would ship in foreign workers anyway, who wouldn't complain about the poor working conditions.

E) Even if 2M jobs could be generated that way, we couldn't train enough people that fast and the ability to duck when a burst pipe shatters is not something that can be taught very well without great medical coverage.

F) It would create enormous environmental problems (which would probably create more jobs, but still not 2M).

G) There are not enough oil rigs in existence to ramp up that kind of drilling.

to add

H) Trickle down has never worked and making oil companies richer won't work either.

I) It would be hard for oil rig workers to spend their money and infuse the economy with cash since they are STUCK ON AN OIL RIG!

J) If you let them operate without regulations, the oil companies will pay the workers dirt, ship the money offshore (pun intended) and only the workers that live or manage to get out unmaimed will be able to spend their meager salaries.

You would create more jobs by pontoon bridges out to the oil rigs.

Posted by: coltergeist on March 12, 2009 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I used to live in Arizona, in the district that Shadegg now represents. And let me tell you that I know exactly how stupid John Shadegg is.

Posted by: bucky on March 12, 2009 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

A reworked drill-baby-drill theme, I see. Great, where ya gonna get the rigs and the operators (aside being free and instantaneous)? Other than that, you'll have a bunch of crude sloshing around someplace, since we can't refine the shit fast enough. There hasn't been a refinery built in a generation, and I don't remember what the refining capacity equations are, but to do so now is roughly $1Billion/Yr /refinery. For example, if an oil company has sized a new refinery that will cost them $5B, then it will take approximately 5 yrs to come on-line. Assuming, of course that the oil company is willing to spring for the $5B.

Posted by: Ken on March 12, 2009 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Thee intelligence of a mob is equal to that of its dumbest member. Except in the case of the conservatives in this country, whose collective intelligence is equal to the square root of its dumbest member.


Who is probably Jonah Goldberg.

Posted by: CN on March 12, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

No-cost Stimulus = clap louder

DRILL BABY DRILL!!!!1!11!!!1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhvRQyRdVEI

Posted by: Jon Karak on March 12, 2009 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, deregulation and increased offshore drilling! What a brilliant new concept! I cant believe the Republicans never thought of this before.

Posted by: TG Chicago on March 12, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

The reality is we are giving jobs to oil fieldworkers and natural gas fieldworkers in Russia and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela

If we just started wars with all these countries, we could create several million more jobs in the Army alone, and we could just take all their oil (and none of them would would attack us again, like they did on 9/11).

Posted by: qwerty on March 12, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Not all conservatives are stupid, but all stupid people are conservative."

Posted by: DonkeyKong on March 12, 2009 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

This plan is from a well of ignorance; coupled with a lack of intellect. Put all three of their heads together, and you have a boardwalk. Just like Coney Island.

Posted by: Hartley Lord on March 12, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: " I'm suprised that amount of sheer wingnut malicious stupidity concentrated in one place didn't spark an explosion."

If Glenn Beck had walked into the room, the combined density would have collapsed into a black hole.

Posted by: Grumpy on March 12, 2009 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

They probably meant to create jobs in the renewable energy field, you know, solar, wind, thermonuclear, methane. I'm sure that is what they were thinking...I'm sure...???

st john

Posted by: st john on March 12, 2009 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

How about this one, Vitter... legalize prostitution instead. It's also free, and would create millions of jobs in the sex and tourism industries as lots of foreigners use the weak dollar and our hot women (and men) as an excuse to come to the US for sex tours.

Posted by: Paul on March 12, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Would not care to check, but, did any of those dumb conservative sites use the word "among" to describe dialog among three individuals?

Posted by: berttheclock on March 12, 2009 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

How can so many stupid bloggers be drawn to one stupid article that makes no sense about something none of them ever watch and they sit and pontificate over and over how wonderful they are. Shut off the gas to them, they'll go quiet and wonder what happened.

Don't drill and watch the $5 gas re-appear and they still wonder what happened.

Legalize stupidity and then tax it, no more stimulus not budget problems. Start with this blog.

Posted by: Oren on March 12, 2009 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the finest example of Republican denseness is the 22nd amendment. Upset that FDR had been elected four times, the Republicans passed through a constitutional amendment that restricted presidents to two terms. The first president to be elected after passage was war hero Dwight Eisenhower. After doing his mandated two-and-out, the GOP was forced to nominate Tricky Dick Nixon. The Republicans finally got around to admitting the 22nd was a bad idea when Ronnie Reagan was winding down his second term.

Posted by: CapitalCat on March 13, 2009 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK
The reality is we are giving jobs to oil fieldworkers and natural gas fieldworkers in Russia and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, when we should be putting those people to work here in the United States.

Hmm drilling for oil in the US? That will create plenty of jobs all right. Its more useless than digging a hole and filling it up again, but boy is there a lot of places you can hire people to drill for oil. Why not start drilling for oil in the north? you know, those towns where the steel and auto plants closed?

But wouldn`t the cost be a little higher on a per job basis than say laying railroad tracks?

Posted by: asdf on March 13, 2009 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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