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Legal Lines with Locke Meredith

Show #135 Guest: Congressman Dr. Bill Cassidy



Attorney, Locke Meredith, interviews United States Congressman for District 6, Dr. Bill Cassidy, on important issues facing our country like debt, unemployment / underemployment and the Keystone XL Project.

Congressman Cassidy entered politics through the State Senate for Louisiana four years ago & has now served a term & a half as a United States Congressman. Congressman Cassidy was elected three years ago in 2009 when President Obama was elected into office. At that time the President had a democrat majority in both the House of Representatives & the Senate, thus many major forms of legislation were passed; including: the President’s health care bill & the stimulus package. According to Congressman Cassidy these things didn’t work the American people realized it. Thus they voted out some of the legislators giving us a Republican House of Representatives. Congressman Cassidy explains that one implication of having a Republican House of Representatives is more balance of power within the federal government.

Cassidy explains that the jobless rate has gone down and there are now about 300,000 fewer people looking for work than before the recession started. However, the unemployment rate is not as simple as people sometimes think, as it excludes those who are no longer looking for work, as well as those who are underemployed. Cassidy advises that we need to not only create more jobs, but also create better paying jobs for those who are employed. Underemployment is something that Cassidy stresses is just as important as unemployment.

“How do we recreate prosperity? How do we create not just jobs, but good paying jobs with good benefits?” asks Cassidy. House Republicans have sent 25 different bills to the Senate designed to create more jobs, mostly for blue-collar men in the industries of manufacturing, construction, & mining. The Republicans are turning to the private sector to provide for this job growth. One example Cassidy brings up is the Keystone XL Project, an Oil Sands project in Canada, which will employ many Americans as well. This project involves the manufacturing & construction of a pipeline from Canada to petrochemical plants in Texas. By objective analysis, Cassidy explains this project will create 21,000 direct jobs & 100,000 indirect jobs. As for our current progress, the President has two camps he faces in making this decision. On one hand are the trade unions, who want this project badly. On the other hand are the environmentalists, who don’t want this project to occur. Cassidy points out that the President needs this base to get reelected, thus he has put the hold on the decision about the pipeline until after the election in 2012. Canada has expressed that they will build a pipeline across the Pacific Ocean to China, if the U.S. doesn’t allow one, thus they will sell their oil to overseas. The issue is this: is this project going to create jobs in the U.S. or is it going to create jobs in China? Currently, the President has decided to postpone the decision to after the election in 2012.

Next, Meredith & Cassidy discuss our national debt. Currently 40% of everything the Federal Government spends is borrowed from somebody. With the President’s current budget, Cassidy believes we are on a dangerous path of debt that we will not be able to sustain, thus placing a huge burden on future generations. Examples of this include Greece, Ireland, & Italy. All of which he says experienced plummeting private sector growth due to overexpansion of their respective governments.

The lowering of our national credit score is a clear signal that we need to get our financial house in order and is discouraging outside investors. Currently, the U.S. pays roughly 1% on their debt, while countries like the ones mentioned above are paying up to 7% to borrow money. However, with a falling credit score our rates are likely to rise.

Meredith asks “How do we make the United States economy grow?” Cassidy responds by pointing out that Louisiana actually has lessons to teach the rest of the country. Examples are the demand for work due to the development of the Haynesville Shale in north Louisiana as well as the $2 Billion of expansions already announced for manufacturing plants of the Greater Baton Rouge area. This all started with increasing the amount of oil & gas we are taking from the ground. The removal of natural resources creates jobs both directly & indirectly. While offshore drilling is not what it was before the BP oil spill, Cassidy explains that there has been an increase in onshore drilling, which still benefits many of us in Louisiana.

Another advantage of Louisiana is our abundance of natural gas. This allows us to have cheap energy & to be able to pay our workers well. Thus, allowing for us to compete in the global economy.