On the road today in Colorado where Mitt Romney is trying to turn the page form his fraught foreign trip with a laser focus on the economy.
His aides say he will announce a 5-point “Plan for a Stronger Middle Class.” From the sounds of it, the plan is a repackaging of the same economic policies Romney has already outlined in his campaign — cuts to income taxes and corporate taxes, deregulation, and reducing government spending to 20% of GDP.
Interestingly, the first plank of the “new” plan is a goal of achieving “North American energy independence by 2020.” It’s not an easy goal — that in practice would likely require both increases in production and reductions in energy consumption (and expensive investments in new technologies).
The Romney campaign said it would be done through increased domestic US production and building more infrastructure (including Keystone XL) within North America.
North American energy independence was for a long time the notion that Canadian representatives would pitch in Washington.
That changed with Stephen Harper’s comments on the subject during his April visit to Washington when he said continental independence was not in Canada’s interests any longer:
I’ve got to say that Canada’s interests here are a little bit different, and particularly—I might as well be frank with you—in light of the interim decision on Keystone. What it really has highlighted for Canada is that our issue when it comes to energy and energy security is not North American self-sufficiency; our energy issue is a necessity of diversifying our energy export markets.
We cannot be, as a country, in a situation where really our one and, in many cases, almost only energy partner could say no to our energy products. We just cannot be in that kind of position.
And the truth of the matter is that when it comes to oil in particular, we do face a significant discount in the marketplace because of the fact that we’re a captive supplier.
So we have made it clear to the people of Canada one of our national priorities is to make sure that we have the infrastructure and the capacity to export our energy products outside of North America. Now, look, we’re still going to be a major supplier to the United States. It’ll be a long time, if ever, before the United States isn’t our number one export market. But for us, the United States cannot be our only export market. That is not in our interests either commercially or even, as I say, in terms of price.