House Majority Leader Eric Cantor released a memo yesterday on the GOP’s “Upcoming Jobs Agenda.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was surprised to learn that the GOP has a jobs agenda.*
Most of the jobs agenda is made up of a list of regulations conservatives aren’t happy with, accompanied by industry talking points on why those regulations hurt their profits kill jobs. Of the 10 JOB-DESTROYING REGULATIONS (caps in original) Cantor’s memo mentions, seven are environmental regulations being promulgated or considered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Jonathan Cohn, perhaps taking Cantor’s memo too seriously, does a good job dissecting the false claims Cantor makes about one of these regulations, the Cross State Air Pollution Rule. Cohn writes:
Consider the Environmental Protection Agency’s long awaited “interstate transport rule,” which goes by the acronym CSAPR and which regulates emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from coal plants. Scrubbers that remove these particles from emissions have been available for more than thirty years, but, according to the EPA, plants in some parts of the country have been slow to adopt them, spewing soot into neighboring states downwind. By 2014, the agency predicts, the new rule will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 71 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 52 percent.
Of course, the companies that still maintain plants with high emissions will have to spend money to comply with the new rule. And, according to the Barrasso memo, the bill for that compliance (including, as far as I can tell, higher prices the companies might pass along to customers) comes to $2.4 billion a year. But the source of that figure is the EPA’s own assessment, which notes that $1.6 billion of that represent a one-time-only capital investment, already underway – and that even the $2.4 billion pales next to the $120 to $280 billion in annual benefits that the regulation will generate. Those benefits include reduced emergency room visits, missed days at work, and mortality.
Cohn makes good points, but what he doesn’t take into account are the thousands of jobs the Cantor plan would create or save in the medical, mortuary, floral and gravestone industries. Consider this chart, from the Job Killing Organization of America itself, illuminating the devastating toll reducing air pollution will have on these industries:
Why does the EPA hate hospital workers, florists, embalmers and the inhaler industry? Eric Cantor wants to know.
*If the beginning of this blog post wasn’t funny, try picturing Lewis Black saying it out loud.
Update — Here’s Steve Benen:
In case this isn’t obvious, Cantor’s plan is a poor jobs agenda. Indeed, it’s not really an agenda in any meaningful sense at all. Republicans have been pushing for deregulation efforts like these for decades — Cantor isn’t responding to a changing economic landscape and new demand-driven challenges with a tailored package of policy solutions; Cantor is just listing a bunch of safeguards Republicans want to scrap anyway.
Update 2 — From the Washington Post:
In response to a question on whether the GOP has an alternative plan for environmental protection, a Cantor spokesperson e-mails: “Regardless of the regulation, House Republicans believe they should be written in a way that will not have a negative impact on the economy or make it harder for businesses small and large to create jobs.”
I’ll take that as a no.
Update 3 — More here from Ed Kilgore.
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