Transcript: Thom Hartmann: Republicans want power not jobs. 8 December '11

So what were House Republicans up to this week?

If you guessed creating jobs - you'd be wrong.

But if you guessed passing unconstitutional gimmick legislation - then you're right on point.

That's right - yesterday - House Republicans passed the REINS Act - short for “Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny".

The Act is essentially a colossal power grab by Congress - and considering that Congress has about a 9% approval rating - we should all be a little wary about legislation that gives Congress more power.

What the REINS Act tries to do is to give either Chamber of Congress - the House or the Senate - veto power to strike down any new regulations coming from the White House or other Executive Department agencies.

So - for example - if the EPA wants to set a new limit on how much pollution Koch Industries can pump into our atmosphere - then it would first have to be approved by Republicans in the House of Representatives - many of who have received direct contributions from the Koch brothers.

The essential separation of powers that keeps our government in balance and was put in place by the Framers of the Constitution in 1787 would be completely wiped away by the REINS Act.

Congress writes the laws - the President carries out the laws - that's the way it's always worked.

Now - Congress wants to not only write the laws - but they also want to tell the President how to carry them out, too.

As in - sure, Mr. President - you can have new clean air standards...just not on Koch Industries.

Or - yeah, go ahead and make our water safer Mr. President - but you can't put new regulations on Dow chemicals - they gave us a lot of contributions last election.

You would think that the same House Republicans who insisted the Constitution be read cover-to-cover - with a few convenient omissions - on the first day of this new session - would be a little more careful when passing blatantly unconstitutional legislation.

But beyond its unconstitutionality - it's completely unnecessary.

Republicans argue they need this new law to curb excessive new regulations coming out of the White House.

What they fail to mention is that President Bush issued FAR more regulations than President Obama has.

Republicans also argue that these regulations are "burdensome" and they kill jobs and lower economic activity - something that hasn't been proven at all.

In fact - just the opposite has been proven.

So far over the past decade, each new regulation actually CREATES and jobs - and boosts economic activity.

After all - if you tell power plants they have to clean up and spew less pollution - then the power companies have to go out - buy new smokestack scrubbers - hire people to install them - and boom - more jobs are created and there's more spending in the economy.

As the CEO of American Electric Power - a fellow by the name of Mike Morris - admitted in an interview with the Washington Post when asked what the impact of new regulations are on job creation, he said:

"We have to hire plumbers, electricians, painters, folks who do that kind of work when you retrofit a plant. Jobs are created in the process - no question about that."

So the REINS Act isn't REALLY about economics - it's about Republicans doing something to satisfy their campaign donors who want to make as much profit as they can by polluting as much as they want - plain and simple.

Luckily - the REINS Act has NO chance of passing the Senate - which makes what Republicans did yesterday all the more absurd - and frankly, in a way, obscene...because it was a complete waste of time.

And with a payroll tax-cut set to expire at the end of the month that could result in ACTUAL economic damage - plus unemployment benefits also set to expire - and one in five Americans out of a job - and a record-high 49 million Americans living in poverty - and 44 million Americans depending on food stamps - and 53 million Americans unable to get health insurance - and a level of wealth inequality unseen since the Great Depression - with wars - climate disasters - a European debt crisis - social unrest in the streets - the question for Speaker of the House John Boehner has to be....

"Why the hell are you wasting your time - and our time on this kind of stuff?"

Really, call him up - and call your Member of Congress - especially if they're a Republican who voted for the REINS Act - and ask that same question.

I'd love to hear their answer.

That's The Big Picture.

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