Harry Reid doesn’t actually give a damn about the economy

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is dead set on bringing to the floor a measure to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per house. He scheduled a vote on the proposal despite a warning from the Congressional Budget Office that it will cost the economy at least 500,000 jobs:

Reid filed cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 2223, a bill from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. The vote could come as early as Wednesday.

The vote will be a major test of unity for Senate Democrats, who have made the wage hike central to their populist agenda for the midterm elections.

So, there’s that. They’re going to hold a vote on raising the minimum wage. Virtually every Republican will vote against it. On the ropes politically, Democrats will use the vote to claim that Republicans hate poor people. Because populism.

Here’s the thing, though. While Democrats are pushing a feel good measure that will hurt the economy, they’re having an internal debate on whether or not to bring another to the floor that would actually create jobs:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his team are weighing the political implications of holding a vote on approval of the controversial pipeline as part of an energy efficiency bill written by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). A vote on Keystone would offer a strong boost to red-state Democrats in tough races this fall, allowing them to defy the White House in support of a project viewed favorably back home.
[…]
One option would be to strike a deal with Republicans to allow the Shaheen-Portman legislation to proceed without votes on controversial amendments and instead hold a separate vote on approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Democrats could choose to make that vote a “Sense of the Senate” resolution, though this path lacks the teeth that Republicans and red state Democrats desire. The Senate already voted to approve Keystone during vote on the budget last year, which was also nonbinding.

A binding vote to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would be even trickier. The Obama administration has punted a decision on the northern leg of the pipeline for the time being, which means Democrats would be moving to supplant the president if they hold a vote on Keystone. To preserve some authority, the White House would seek to keep support for the bill under the 67 votes that can override a presidential veto. Keystone would need 60 votes to pass the Senate; the nonbinding vote last year drew the support of 62 senators.

The State Department found that Keystone XL would create up to 3,900 temporary construction jobs and noted that the ancillary effects could be even greater, creating up to 42,100 jobs over a two year period. The Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) produced a study in June 2011 estimating that the pipeline could create and preserve up to 80,000 jobs in the United States by 2019 and a peak of 179,000 by 2035.

So, think about this for a moment. Reid and Senate Democrats are going to bring the minimum wage bill to the floor knowing full well the impact that it could have on businesses and the economy as well as the opportunities it’ll destroy for many young and low-skilled workers. And yet, they can’t bring themselves to bring Keystone XL to the floor because of the “political implications.”

Seriously? What political implications? Americans support construction of the Keystone XL and it would create thousands of jobs. Oh, wait, that’s right, radical environmentalist in the Democratic Party rabidly opposes the pipeline. In fact, one major donor, Tom Steyer, has managed to gain enough influence to get the administration to stall on a decision.

Talk about mixed messages and misplaced priorities.


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