Rep. Greg Walden: Update on jobs, Obama budget, energy

by Rep. Greg Walden

U.S. Forest Service bureaucracy hurts central Oregon economy

I know you’ll be frustrated when you hear this story, just like I was.

When you watch a car commercial on TV, you may notice that they’re normally filmed in locations with visually stunning backdrops. Well, Mercedes-Benz wanted to film just such a commercial in the Deschutes National Forest, on a stretch of public roads closed during the winter due to snowfall. The Oregon State Snowmobile Association (basically the only group using that area to recreate this time of year) volunteered to help groom the snow.

Local tourism groups were excited-what an opportunity to showcase the beauty of central Oregon! Not to mention the local hotels, who stood to gain a nice midweek shot in the arm from about 55 crew members that would descend on the area to shoot the commercial. The direct economic impact to central Oregon was estimated at about $150,000, and perhaps more. Besides, when folks come to the region to visit for the first time, most are blown away. They want to come back, and bring their friends and families next time. The precedent would be worth it alone, sending the message that central Oregon is open to this kind of business.

Only the other precedent may have been set. The production team quickly gained the necessary permits from Deschutes County. But when they approached the U.S. Forest Service in January, they were met with a frustrating and unresponsive bureaucracy.

Finally, the location scout, nearing the end of his patience with the bureaucracy, walked into my office in Bend on Friday, Feb. 10. That’s the first I learned of the issue. Mercedes needed to shoot the commercial the following Wednesday, he said, but for weeks he had been unable to obtain the necessary permit from the Forest Service.

I organized a meeting the next day, on Saturday, in my office. The Forest Service, the production team, and local businesses were all represented. We tried to break the logjam.

Two days later, the Forest Service still refused to issue the permit. The clock ran out. Mercedes notified the region that they had to resort to plan B, to a location in California where they have better relationships to shoot these kinds of commercials on public lands.

What a bitter disappointment.  You can read the Bulletin’s take on the issue here on my Facebook page. There are many very, very frustrated folks in central Oregon today, and they have every right to be. The U.S. Forest Service owes us all explanations, and I intend to get them.

Hundreds of thousands of new jobs

Congress just approved the biggest jobs bill you’ll never hear about.

Last week, Congress put the finishing touches on a bipartisan agreement that extends the middle class tax cut. That got most of the headlines. What didn’t was that it also included the framework I designed to free up vast swaths of wireless broadband (or “spectrum”) for innovation that would produce $15 billion in revenue for taxpayers and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

As the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, I’ve spent the better part of the last year writing the Jumpstarting Opportunities with Broadband Spectrum Act-the JOBS Act.

There is a nearly insatiable appetite for wireless broadband in the market today, for both personal and professional use. Telecommunications is the most vibrant and innovative sector in American today. And spectrum is the fuel it runs on. Lately, the gas gauge has been getting a little low.

When you take out your smartphone to tweet a message or check out what’s new on your wall or stream a viral video on YouTube, you need wireless broadband-or spectrum-to make it happen.

To meet the public’s growing demand for broadband devices and services, and to support the next generation of high-tech investment and innovation, the plan I constructed clears the path for the long-awaited auction of additional spectrum.

Spectrum auctions will bring in revenues, spur innovation and investment, and promote significant new job creation. Companies like Google and Facebook and the next generation of innovators we haven’t heard about all rely on a vibrant supply of wireless broadband to create the products and services that will keep America’s technology industry competitive for years to come.

Along with the spectrum auctions, the plan will help to finally build the nationwide interoperable broadband public safety network that was a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. America’s first responders deserve a communications network that will be reliable in the moments we rely on them most.

At its heart, though, this is a jobs plan. According to recent studies, investment in next-generation wireless broadband could produce an estimated 300,000 jobs or more.

We are in the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression. This is exactly the kind of work we should be doing in the nation’s capital-legislation that creates jobs and revenue for the taxpayers.

The Obama budget-more of the same, more debt, more doubt

With his stimulus program, President Obama promised unemployment would remain below 8 percent. A new CBO report projects that 8 percent unemployment will remain into 2014.

Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

That’s why I was disappointed when President Obama released his budget for the next fiscal year. It’s more of the same strategies that haven’t worked (and even made things worse) over the last few years.

Does it make sense to have a fourth straight year of deficits eclipsing $1 trillion? You could never run a small business or a family budget like this.

It’s not that Washington has a revenue problem-it has a spending problem. This image is from the Heritage Foundation, but the data comes from the Congressional Budget Office.

Last year, the House passed a budget that would have reduced deficits by $4.2 trillion over the next decade compared to the President’s proposal, repealed the government takeover of healthcare, and saved Medicare and Social Security for future generations while protecting those at or near retirement.

We sent it over to the Senate…where it sat…and sat…and sat some more. In fact, the Senate hasn’t passed a budget in more than 1,000 days.

Ask yourself this: could you the finances for your family or small business without putting together a budget?

Expanding American Energy Production and Creating American Jobs

You may recall in the last newsletter I lamented the President’s decision to pass on the Keystone XL pipeline and the tens of thousands of American jobs it would create. Yet he claimed he wanted an “all-of-the-above” energy solution.

Well, last week the House decided to help him out and pass legislation that would actually help put the country on that path. It’s called the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, and it would promote the development of the Keystone pipeline, responsible energy production in ANWR, expanded offshore energy production, and development of U.S. oil shale.

Here are more specifics on the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act:

Expand Offshore Energy Production

  • Creates over 1.2 million long-term American jobs by opening areas with the most energy resources to new offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic.
  • Resumes offshore lease sales in Virginia, the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska that were delayed or canceled by the Obama Administration.
  • Establishes a fair and equitable revenue sharing program with coastal states.

Open ANWR to Energy Production

  • Opens less than three percent of ANWR’s 19 million acres to responsible energy development, creating tens of thousands of American jobs.
  • The North Slope of ANWR, where energy production would occur, was specifically set aside in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter and Congress for energy development.
  • USGS estimates show ANWR contains approximately 10.4 billion barrels of oil and at peak production could supply the U.S. with up to 1.45 million barrels of oil per day.
  • Protects the environment by requiring an Environmental Impact Statement to be completed and allows the Secretary to close portions of the Coastal Plain, on a seasonal basis, to drilling activities for protection of wildlife.

Promote Development of U.S. Oil Shale

  • Sets clear rules for the development of U.S. oil shale resources and promotes shale technology research and development.
  • The Obama Administration recently withdrew over one million acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to oil shale development.
  • Robust oil shale development could create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  • The USGS estimates show the region may hold more than 1.5 trillion barrels of oil – six times Saudi Arabia’s proven resources.

Require Approval of Keystone XL Pipeline

  • This Energy & Commerce Committee provision would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the Keystone XL pipeline within 30 days.
  • The Keystone XL pipeline will create more than 20,000 American jobs and displace less stable energy imports with millions of barrels of safe and secure North American oil.

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Posted by at 03:41 | Posted in Economy, Energy, Federal Budget | 39 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced support for the Keystone XL pipeline project nearly a year ago now and for national security purposes.  But Obama needs the votes of the mentally dificients like hollywood actress Hannah (“Splash” movie diva) to ensure his re-election, and so he squashes the pipeline on the feeble excuse of not having enough info.  Then there is ANWR which has been squashed by the Dems for more than a decade now – early on through filibusters in the early 00s.  Talk about 1%.  Far less than 1% of all Americans will ever visit ANWR, be affected by it, or even want to visit it.  ANWR and Keystone pipeline together would boost North American produced oil supply by over ten percent, and would ease oil prices by perhaps 5% as it would create some spare capacity presently when very little spare exists globally.

    But instead we get the president of slimey excuses…”there’s no magic bullit and hey how bout we drop a billion$ or so on a new experiment called algae-to-oil manufacture.”  I hope enough folks start to sober up and stop smoking Obama’s dream pipe.  This guy spends like there’s no tomorrow; and when he’s left office if he stays another 4 years, there may be much less left of tomorrow.

    • JoelinPDX

      Bob, you can kiss tomorrow goodbye if Obozo gets another four year term. Reelecting Obozo would be like committing national suicide.

      • valley person

         Yes Joel. 300 million people will commit sepiku by re-electing the guy who just spent 3 years in office, got bin laden, nearly doubled the value of the markets, and increased domestic oil production. 

        Its this sort of batty rhetoric that got you the weak candidates you have to run against Obama. Your party can’t possibly nominate a normal person.

        • JoelinPDX

          Well, obviously I was talking symbolically (You liberals just don’t get symbolism, I guess) but there’ll be a lot of people who would rather be someplace besides the US. The problem is there isn’t much in the way of places to go. The Middle East is pretty well closing down to anyone who isn’t Muslim…Europe is getting more and more hostile to freedom. Maybe Japan, but learning Tategaki would be a bitch.

          You might want to mention that while The DJIA has grown  about 60 percent since Obozo’s coronation, the national debt has grown by a very similar amount. And what about the price of a gallon of gasoline or what’s happened to the value of a dollar on world markets.

          • valley person

            Yes Joel, “we liberals” (all of us I guess) get symbolism. When you call Obama a Muslim fascist socialist, we get you don’t really mean that he is literally a Muslim, a fascist, and/or a socialist, which would be literally impossible in any case if you stop and think about it.

            As for moving out of the US if Obama is re-elected, since the right is gun toting and pro military, I’d suggest taking over an island somewhere and going all Galt on us. Set up a really small government paradise. Then you could write back in a few decades and let us know how that worked out. Of course, since much of the right consists of over 55 white guys, we liberals might have to help you in the fertility department.

            I don’t know what the DJIA is. But if it “grew” 60%, along with the debt, doesn’t Congress share some responsibility? After all, they are the ones who actually pass tax and spending bills that fund agencies the last time I looked. Obama can’t “grow” much of anything by himself.

            The price of gas is basically back to where it was in the summer of 2008. Its also called economic recovery, which increases demand for a limited commodity.

            On the value of the dollar, when George Bush was elected in 2000, 1 dollar would buy you 1 Euro. When Bush left office in 2008, it took 1.5 dollars to buy 1 Euro. Today it takes 1.3 dollars to buy 1 Euro. In other words, the US currency has gained value internationally.

            But don’t let facts spoil your complaints Joel.  

          • JoelinPDX

            Very Obozoesque…pick the facts you want and ignore those you have no hope of refuting…then lie.

            First, you create a strawman with your comment about calling Obozo a Muslim, Fascist, Socialist. I’ve never called Obozo a Muslim. Jeremiah Wright is who Obozo worships. I’ve never called Obozo a fascist, although treating him like Mussolini does sound good. As for being a socialist, Obozo does want the US to be more like European socialist countries.

            Second it would have to be a pretty big island and Greenland is much too cold. John Galt was an objectivist…a group that holds views decidedly at odds with the right.

            Third, DJIA is pretty basic investmentspeak. Since you say you don’t know what the Dow Jones Industrial Average is, please don’t write about business or economics. You’ve shown your ignorance on the subject. Furthermore, the president proposes…Congress disposes. It is Obozo who proposed the outrageous expansions of the budget and a Democrat majority in Congress who adopted them. Since that time the House has gone Republican and the GOP makes up a bigger part of the Senate. You may have noticed Obozo whining about the lack of bi-partisanship since 2010.

            Fourth, gasoline was at it’s low point when Obozo was coronated. It started on the upward path soon after coronation day. It is Obozo’s restrictive oil policy that has caused gasoline prices to spike. Romney will open ANWR to drilling, approve the Keystone pipeline and remove Obozo’s ban on offshore drilling.

            Fifth, as for the value of the dollar, take a long hard look at where the price of gold has gone in the last three years and try and tell me the dollar is stronger. 

            Don’t let facts spoil your dissembling.  

          • valley person

            You haven’t called Obama a Muslim? Well good for you then. But you think the president of the United states ought to be shot? Congratulations on proving my point about over the top rhetoric.

            “It is Obozo’s restrictive oil policy that has caused gasoline prices to spike.”

            Question Joel. Is the US producing more oil now, or did we produce more during any of the Bush years?

            Yes, gasoline prices bottomed as he recession bottomed. Supply and demand and all that. But prices today are about where they were before the recession took hold. A sign that we are recovering, not something to worry about.

            “Fifth, as for the value of the dollar, take a long hard look at where
            the price of gold has gone in the last three years and try and tell me
            the dollar is stronger.”

            The dollar is stronger in comparison with other world currencies. The value of a dollar in relation to a nearly useless chunk of shiny metal is not very important unless you happen to want some. Most people don’t, so who cares how much other people want to spend on it? 

            So you are saying the Republican House has to pass whatever budget the President wants? Interesting.

          • JoelinPDX

            Well, slowly but surely I’m whittling you down. But there isn’t going to be room, I fear, so I’m going to put my response to this ignorance under a comment of yours higher up.

        • JoelinPDX

          My reply to comment down the line:

          Gee, thanks for your kudos for my not calling Obozo a Muslim. It means so much. I never said Obozo should be shot. My “over the top” comment had to do with hanging him by his heels. Read your history, quit assuming.

          “Is the US producing more oil now, or did we produce more during any of the Bush years?” 

          Nice try at a red herring but production in relation to price in this context simply doesn’t matter.

          “…gasoline prices bottomed as (t)he recession bottomed. Supply and demand and all that.” 

          Your not following the Obozo Administration line. You know Obozo would have us believe that our economic tough times are over. But if gas prices bottomed as the recession bottomed but gas prices are now back up then you must be acknowledging that the recession is all Obozo’s.

          Since gasoline prices have gone nowhere but up since Obozo’s coronation (check the prices, you’ll find the last low point — $1.75 to $1.90 a gallon was at the time that GW Bush was turning 1600 Pennsylvania over to Obozo)    
          and you want to tie the economy to gasoline prices, I’ll take that if it will move us from point A to point B.

          But I doubt it will move us, you’ll just come up with more weaseling. At any rate, gas prices are estimated to hit new RECORD highs this summer. But thanks for your admission that Obozo has brought us nothing but more recession.

          Nice try at denigrating the price of gold but you really expect your “nearly useless chunk of shiny metal” comment to be taken seriously. You obviously are hoping against hope (and change) that you can make me believe that gold has no worth. Good luck with this specious argument.

          “So you are saying the Republican House has to pass whatever budget the President wants?”

          Now you seem to be confusing me with Obozo. As I wrote, I’m glad that we have the Republican House to buffer Obozo’s stupid proposals. It would be Obozo who believes that Republicans have to pass what he offers and he has said so often. He apparently has no understanding or appreciation for our tricameral form of government.

          • valley person

            “But thanks for your admission that Obozo has brought us nothing but more recession.”

            Joel, I would type slower if that would help you. I’ll try again.

            Rising gas prices are a sign that the economy is recovering. That is the opposite of “more recession.” Got it now?

            So you insist that the budget is Obama’s, even though Republicans control the House?  

          • JoelinPDX

            “Rising gas prices are a sign that the economy is recovering.”

            RISING gasoline prices mean that the economy is IMPROVING? I suppose that goes for INCREASING food prices as well? It must be nice there in Delusionland. 

          • valley person

             They are a sign that the economy is improving, yes. It isn’t improving BECAUSE gas prices are rising. Its the other way around.

          • JoelinPDX

            Really, it’s time to stop drinking your lunch. Would you be interested in buying this new pedestrian bridge they’re building in Portland.

          • valley person

            Or it may be time for you to study economics for 5 minutes .

          • 3H

            Mussolini was shot first (multiple times) before being hung by his heels.  Perhaps you should read your history and stop reading the condensed versions or skipping to the very end.

          • valley person

             Joel is a moderate. He wants to hang Obama by his heels first and then shoot him.

            No over the top rhetoric for Joel. He really means it.

  • Britt Storkson

    I don’t think Walden can lecture anybody about fiscal policy.  After all, he voted to borrow another 1.5 Trillion from the Chinese or God knows whom to continue feeding an already bloated federal bureaucracy.
    Borrowing more money when we are swimming in red ink is not only irresponsible fiscal policy, it is insane.  And this is what Lars Larson supports as a solution to our problems?  Hardly. 

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Remember back during the 2008 election when gas prices spiked and everyone went nuts blaming Bush2? Well, looks like round two of that one now. We were told then that increasing domestic production by opening up drilling would take years before it came online so there was little point in even discussing it.

    Well, it’s been years since we got that sage wisdom. Sure would be nice if we hadn’t listened to it. We might have had some new production coming online soon.

    • valley person

       This is a trick question Rupert. What year has the US had the highest gas and oil production over the last 10 years?  

      • 3H

        In how man iterations?  It’s important to include that part.

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