Hillary and Jobs: Haiti yes; America no

When unemployment reached its highest levels, Hillary Clinton had a chance to push through a project creating thousands of jobs in America. Instead she pushed through a $300 million project creating thousands of jobs in Haiti.

The two projects had many of the same characteristics. Both were under the jurisdiction of the State Department. Both were controversial. Both had environmental issues. Both had been on the drawing board. Both needed high-level attention to move them along.

The project in America, the Keystone Pipeline, has been languishing for 2,548 days.

The project in Haiti, the Caracol Industrial Park, was put into high gear in 2010. Ground was broken November 28, 2011. Operations began in July of 2012. Hillary Clinton led a cavalcade of Hollywood stars, government officials, and former President Bill Clinton to the grand opening on October 22, 2012.

Seven years and counting on the American project. Two years and open for business in Haiti.

In her book Hard Choices, Clinton proudly writes that after the earthquake, the president of Haiti told her chief of staff: “I need Hillary.” She interrupted her trip to Asia and flew to the rescue.

What about the pipe welders, the heavy equipment operators, the valve manufacturers, the food truck owners, the motel operators in America waiting on Hillary for State Department approval of the pipeline project? Who were they going to call?

Some will say that is not fair. The earthquake in Haiti was catastrophic -- 160,000 were killed, possibly more. Another 1.5 million, surrounded by rubble, had no place to live. The United States, the State Department, USAID, and the world responded.

All true. But the industrial park is in the northern part of the country, not in the earthquake zone. Some even argue that the urgency for this longer-term economic development project came from an embarrassment that things were not going well with the more direct relief in the earthquake zone. There was a need to show progress somewhere.

The New York Times reported: “Two and a half years after the earthquake, Haiti remains mired in a humanitarian crisis, with 390,000 people languishing in tents. Yet the showcase project of the reconstruction effort is this: an industrial park that will create jobs and housing in an area undamaged by the temblor [earthquake] and in a venture that risks benefiting foreign companies more than Haiti itself.”

To clear the way for the industrial park, Haiti evicted 366 families from farms supporting 2,500 family members and another 750 agriculture workers.

The South Korean textile company Hillary brought in to anchor the industrial park had a record of worker intimidation and anti-union violence in Guatemala, according to the AFL-CIO.

The environmental impact assessment for the project was so sketchy the U.S. Treasury Department abstained when asked to vote on it as a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Board.

None of that got in the way.

Of the project in Haiti, Hillary said, ”Are there pitfalls?  Are there problems?  Of course there are. There is with any kind of organized effort at development.”  At the opening ceremony,  she said, “Now, no one should have any illusion that this is a perfect project. What development project anywhere in the world is?”

Problems in Haiti? Handled, one way or the other. Problems in the U.S.? Too tough to handle, at least for Hillary and her colleagues.

A 1968 presidential executive order delegated to the secretary of state the responsibility to receive and act on applications for permits to construct a variety of cross border facilities, including oil pipelines. That executive order was amended in 2004 to expedite the process; “to accelerate the completion of energy production and transmission projects….” (Dream on!)

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP submitted a permit application to the State Department on September 19, 2008. Since then there have been draft environmental impact statements issued by the State Department, final environmental statements, draft supplemental environmental statements, final supplemental environmental statements. Determinations that additional information was needed. Determinations that the project did not serve the national interest.

Three years and 4 months after the permit application was first submitted, Hillary Clinton said no, but feel free to try again later.

Were there “pitfalls” and “problems” on this project, as there were for the project in Haiti? Of course. A change of the route. A new permit application to review. Interference from a frustrated Congress tired of waiting for action. A new deadline. Questions from other federal agencies.

But there is a difference. Getting the Haiti project operational was a priority for Hillary. Getting the pipeline and related jobs approved was not.

Today Hillary Clinton refuses to even talk about the Keystone Pipeline. What she did say is gobbledygook: “I am not going to express an opinion. It is in our process and that's where it belongs." Since so much of the liberal and donor base of the Democrat party is opposed to the pipeline, she is either a political coward, or she agrees with them.

So if you want a job sewing T-shirts in Haiti, call Hillary. It pays about $5.00 a day. But if you want a job in America with a good salary as a pipefitter, welder, heavy equipment operator, engineer or construction supervisor, Hillary is not taking your calls.