The political incompetence and obnoxiousness of the Obama White House was on full display yesterday, as chief press flack Robert Gibbs took time out from being abused by the White House press corps on his boss’ nonsensical approach to addressing the Bush tax cuts to focus his pea-shooter on Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s decision to put a hold on the nomination of Jacob Lew to replace Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag.
Gibbs wasn’t sparing in his criticism of Landrieu’s hold, which she put in place as a protest of the administration’s continuing decision to impose an offshore drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. That decision has cost, by the administration’s estimates, between 8,000 and 12,000 jobs to date, mostly in Louisiana, with the real numbers probably far larger – as in at least 19,000 jobs – according to a study by LSU economist Joe Mason.
In a letter to Senate majority leader Harry Reid last week, Landrieu explained her hold.
“Although Mr. Lew clearly possesses the expertise necessary to serve as one of the President’s most important economic advisors, I found that he lacked sufficient concern for the host of economic challenges confronting the Gulf Coast.”
“The fact that the most acute of these economic challenges, the moratorium, results from a direct (and reversible) federal action only serves to harden my stance on Mr. Lew’s nomination,” the letter continued. “I cannot support further action on Mr. Lew’s nomination to be a key economic advisor to the President until I am convinced that the President and his Administration understand the detrimental impacts that the actual and de facto moratoria continue to have on the Gulf Coast.”
According to Gibbs, it’s a “sad day” when someone is held up when they have received bipartisan support in both the Senate Budget and Homeland Security panels.
He added, “I think it is sad, and I think it’s outrageous” that Landrieu is holding up Jacob Lew’s nomination to be head of the White House Office of Management and Budget “for something that is completely unrelated to him.”
Landrieu doesn’t think it’s unrelated. Through a spokesman, she said she “absolutely believes that the moratorium and nomination of a key economic adviser are related.”
She even quoted the book of Exodus earlier this week in discussing the moratorium. “Let my people go. Let them go. Let them get back to work and hopefully it’s helping,” she said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, continued predictions of the moratorium being lifted float across the transom, though Interior Secretary Ken Salazar – who reportedly has been rebuffed twice in suggestions that the moratorium by lifted by White House climate/energy tsarina Carol Browner – came out with a rather officious and obnoxious-sounding statement yesterday that “We will lift the moratorium when I, as secretary of Interior, am comfortable that we have significantly reduced those risks.”
Salazar promulgated new offshore drilling rules yesterday without announcing either a lifting of the moratorium or a new timetable as to when it will be lifted, prompting local business leaders to predict the deepwater moratorium is likely to go the way of shallow-water drilling – namely, the administration denying there is a moratorium in place but demanding nearly-impossible-to-fulfill conditions in order to approve a drilling permit. Only four shallow-water permits have been approved by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in late April.
Meanwhile, five deepwater rigs have left the Gulf of Mexico for foreign waters. Eight more are currently negotiating contracts to drill elsewhere and could leave at any time. It’s been estimated that each offshore rig accounts directly for as many as 1,500 jobs, not counting ancillary economic effects.
One wonders, in light of those deleterious economic effects to Landrieu’s state based on administration decisions short on legality and economic basis, why the response to her attempts to get their attention would be insults. It’s yet one more example of the juvenile and unqualified nature of the Obama administration. The nation will have a chance to express its opinion Nov. 2.