Thune to Obama: Get on the pipeline bandwagonSenator also talks food stamps, farm bill, Internet taxes during media call.
By: Denise Ross, The Daily Republic
There is mounting evidence that should persuade President Barack Obama to give the final OK to the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline despite opposition from those worried about climate change, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Wednesday.
Thune cited the U.S. State Department's recent report touting economic benefits of the proposed pipeline and the state of Nebraska's sign-off on its route.
"Given the report from his own State Department, I think he would be hard-pressed to reject it," Thune said, while also acknowledging the intense lobbying against the pipeline from the environmental community.
The State Department report acknowledges potential effects on climate change but says it won't be as bad as many critics contend. Thune agreed, saying the only question is what path oil from Canada's tar sands will take in reaching the world market.
The state's junior senator regularly holds conference calls with reporters, and Wednesday’s covered an array of topics.
Thune said the president's trademark health care law should be "pulled up by the roots" because trying to fix troublesome pieces seems to create more conundrums. For example, expected legislation to repeal the medical device tax would head off an "illogical" tax but would also remove one pot of money that would pay for the program.
"The Government Accountability Office concluded it would add $6.2 trillion to the nation's long-term debt," Thune said. "It's going to end up having a very negative impact on job creation."
Before sheepishly admitting that he himself has not turned in the state sales tax required on online purchases, Thune said he is undecided on a bill that would require those who sell items over the Internet to remit sales tax to the home state of the purchaser.
"If you're the state governor or a state legislator, you’re going to be in favor of closing this so-called loophole," Thune said. "If you're a consumer who buys online, there are lots of groups representing taxpayer interest that are opposed to this. It's an issue on which there's disagreement. I'm trying to look at all aspects of it."
Food stamps in farm bill
Thune also is undecided about a provision in the proposed House budget that would separate food stamps and nutrition programs from the farm bill programs that benefit production agriculture.
"You hate to see the farm programs lumped in with the food stamp program, which 80 percent of spending or more is now on food stamps. When people see the number spent, they think all of that goes to the farm program. It doesn't," Thune said.
At the same time, he said agriculture subsidies would not have enough support without members of Congress representing the urban poor who receive benefits.