By Mike Lillis - 04/21/12 10:00 AM EDT
Republicans this week escalated their attack on President Obama over the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline, saying the project's delay is costing jobs and hiking gas prices.
Delivering the GOP's weekly address Saturday, Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) said the pipeline, which Obama blocked earlier this year awaiting an environmental impact report, is "the nation's largest shovel-ready project" capable of creating "thousands of American jobs" and delivering "more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day to our refineries."
The fight over Keystone has been raging since January, when President Obama rejected TransCanada Corp's application to expand the pipeline from the oil sands of Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The State Department said it didn't have time to analyze the effect of the expansion on the environment, leading to Republican charges that the White House is catering to its allies in the environmental movement at the expense of jobs and oil production.
House Republicans on Wednesday approved legislation reversing Obama's Keystone decision, marking the fourth time in two years that GOP leaders have passed a measure to expedite the project. Blunt's address is yet another indication that GOP leaders have every intention of hammering Democrats on the issue right up to November's elections.
Blunt also went after Senate Democrats for staging a vote this week on the so-called "Buffet rule," the notion that wealthy Americans should not pay a lower tax rate than those who earn much less. The rule is named after the billionaire investor Warren Buffet, who has decried the fact that his secretary's tax rate is higher than his.
Echoing GOP criticisms, Blunt characterized the Buffet rule as "a gimmick that would do nothing to jumpstart jobs or lower fuel prices for average Americans."
"Why would we have wasted the week on something like that?" Blunt asked. "There’s really no excuse for not doing things that would lower gas prices and encourage private sector job creation."
Blunt's comments arrive as leaders on both sides of the aisle are shifting full-throttle into campaign mode.
House GOP leaders this week passed legislation they say will help jumpstart hiring by cutting taxes on certain businesses by 20 percent – legislation the Wall Street Journal deemed a "tax gimmick."
Republicans, the Journal wrote in an editorial, "would do more for the economy and their political prospects if they began to educate the country about sensible tax policy.”