GOP knocks Obama's "failed leadership" on energy policy

President Obama's "failed leadership" on energy policy is driving up the cost of living for the American people and slowing the pace of job creation, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Saturday in the weekly Republican address, pitching Republicans' plan to "jumpstart" the economy with an "all of the above" energy strategy.

"When it comes to resources, no nation on Earth has more options at its disposal than America," Scott said. "Unfortunately, the Obama administration has actively blocked and delayed new American energy production, continuing our dependence on dangerous foreign countries for energy."

As evidence, Scott cited the administration's continued blockade of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which he said "could support 40,000 jobs."

"The president is so out of touch with unemployed Americans that he thinks tens of thousands of Keystone XL construction jobs are a 'blip' and 'not a jobs plan,'" Scott said.

There remain disagreements about the number of jobs that would be produced by the oil pipeline, which would transport crude oil from tar sands in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The State Department, which ultimately must sign off on the project because it crosses the U.S.-Canadian border, estimates that it would directly produce 3,900 jobs during the construction phase, but that it could indirectly support 42,100 related jobs over that same period. Mr. Obama said in a recent interview with The New York Times that the project would only produce about 2,000 temporary construction jobs and only 50 to 100 permanent jobs after the pipeline is built.

Scott also criticized Mr. Obama for allowing energy production on federal lands to wane during his time in office, and for limiting offshore oil drilling.

These examples of "failed leadership," Scott said, "will cost every American family more when you buy food at the grocery store, take a family vacation or turn your air conditioner on this summer."

Scott said that Republicans, instead of "playing politics with energy," have a plan to "jumpstart our economy with it."

"We want a true all-of-the-above energy strategy because a diverse, market-based energy portfolio of nuclear, wind, solar and other renewables means more competition and lower prices for consumers," he said. "Opening access to responsible energy production will lower prices, create jobs, grow our economy, decrease dangerous dependence on foreign oil and lower the deficit by adding much-needed revenue to the treasury."

Perhaps more than anything else, Scott said, the government simply needs to get of of the way and allow the private sector to "unleash the potential of a new American energy economy."

In his own weekly address on Saturday, the president discussed housing policy, returning to the themes he sounded during a speech on Tuesday in Arizona, one of the states hardest hit by the collapse of the housing market in 2007.

In the years since the housing bubble burst, Mr. Obama said, the housing market has begun to heal, with fewer foreclosures and rising home values.

But to build on this progress, the president said, "Congress should give every American the chance to refinance at today's low rates."

He also repeated his call to "wind down the companies known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," two quasi-government entities that played a central role in the housing crisis by buying mortgages during the housing boom and repackaging them into securities with the implicit guarantee of taxpayer backing. When the housing bubble burst, taxpayers were left on the hook for the massive liabilities.

Mr. Obama also urged Congress to confirm his choice to lead the Federal Housing Finance Commission, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., so Watt can get to work as the nation's top housing regulator to "protect consumers and help responsible lenders provide credit."