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Obama Blows Chance to Force Stimulus Spending by Corporations

Oil Refinery Burn-off. (photo: dasroofless)

President Obama asked the Environmental Protection Agency to kill a rule lowering permitted ozone emissions by giant Corporate Citizens, like utilities and refineries. That picture? The photographer says it’s the Lubrizol Bayport Plant in Pasadena, Texas, and gives us a link to some of its effluent. Obama claims that the EPA ozone rule is a bad idea because the economy is struggling, and it would cost as much as $90 billion to make the necessary upgrades to meet the new standards, and the struggling giants of American business just can’t do it:

Business groups have said the tighter standard would choke off economic growth by making it harder for industry to expand, because new oil-and-gas projects and manufacturing facilities would increase the emissions that cause ozone. Many states would be unable to issue permits unless they could find other ways to lower emissions.

Let me help with the translation: we Corporate Citizens won’t create jobs unless you weakling Human Citizens let us dose you with toxic chemicals, increasing childhood asthma and lung cancer, as Jon Walker reports.

Obama’s decision is wrong at every level. First, it borders on the criminal to let Corporate Citizens and their human managers pollute the atmosphere and poison all of us in the service of profits. The President of all of the Citizens, not just the Corporation Citizens knows this. He issued a statement in which he tells us a fairy tale about his “unwavering” commitment to environmental protection at the same time he wavered and refused to protect the environment.

Even worse, he explains that we have to balance the harms to our Human Citizens from breathing polluted air with the harms to our Corporate Citizens from our heavy-handed and terribly expensive regulations, repeating a Republican mantra. For Obama, part of the new austerity and shared sacrifice is sick kids and dying humans. Fortunately, ozone doesn’t affect our Corporate Citizens.

The logic is foul, but it is truly obnoxious that the President can’t see the contradiction in his defense of the demands of the Corporate Citizens and the real problem affecting our economy: the absence of demand. He blew yet another chance to provide stimulus to the economy. Right now those toxic Corporate Citizens are sitting on a pile of maybe $2 trillion in cash. That’s money that isn’t creating demand in for our economy. If they were required to retrofit their poisonous plants, it would pump billions into the economy. It has the added advantage of saving us billions in future Medicare and Medicaid payments. Why is this not a win-win for at least the Human Citizens?

Businesses rejoiced. Bloomberg reports that businesses met with Obama’s Chief Corporate Citizen Czar William Daley, to spout their ideological drumbeat that the Obama cost estimates were too low.

“The signal today was that message is being heard” by the White House, Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, which represents companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp., said in an interview. “These are the kinds of signals that the economy and business needs to begin pulling money off the sidelines and start investing.”

Of course the truth is the exact opposite. They don’t have to spend money, so they won’t. No stimulus for you, Mr. Economy.

In short, as with so many of this President’s attempts to find the middle ground, the Human Citizens suffer, and the Corporate Citizens prosper.

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