President Obama criticized for threat to veto timber bill

2013-09-27 Ashley Bach

Reaction continues to come in after the U.S. House's approval last week of sweeping timber reform legislation - the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act.

The Capital Press says the bill's passage is proof that natural resources are back on the radar of state and federal leaders.

All of the sudden, logging is cool again.

At the same time, agriculture has gained a certain cachet, even among urban members of Congress.

This is good. When political leaders stand up for responsible natural resource development as a way to broaden the regional economy we can all have hope for the future.

Much of the attention from Northwest newspapers' editorial boards, though, went to President Obama's vow to veto the legislation if it comes to his desk in its current form.

The Roseburg (Ore.) News-Review says Obama should heed his own words about creating jobs when he spoke at Roseburg High School in 2008.

Within (the) forest legislation (approved by the House last week) is a bipartisan solution to timber country woes called the O&C Trust, Conservation and Jobs Act. We expect Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman (Ron) Wyden to massage the plan to make it palatable to the Democratically controlled Senate and to you.

We urge you to listen to the stories from rural Oregon, where there are few sheriff’s deputies to respond to crime, schools have closed and county services have diminished.

We know you’re concerned about the environment and so are we. Oregon is a beautiful place to live and play. We want protection for clean drinking water and fish-bearing streams, and the separately titled O&C Trust Act can provide that.

Tourism alone will not lift this no-sales-tax state out of the poverty engulfing our rural communities. We need to be able to sustainably cut timber on the federal lands that cover more than 50 percent of our state.

All we’re asking for is your support so we can once again create jobs and provide for ourselves.

The Capital Press said that Obama's veto threat was like another famous presidential rejection.

When New York City faced bankruptcy in 1975, then President Gerald Ford denied the city’s request for federal help, announcing he would veto any bill approving a bailout.

The next day, the front page of the Daily News blared “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”

...A month after Ford made his veto threat, he changed his mind and backed federal loans for Gotham. We can only hope the present administration has a similar change of heart.

The Bend Bulletin also weighed in on the veto threat, and the Albany (Ore.) Democrat-Herald said the president's announcement was misguided.

The bill that passed the House isn't perfect, by any means — but it represented the best shot yet at breaking through the morass. Wyden's proposal might be better; we'll see.

But the administration's decision to shoot off its mouth at this point in the process isn't helpful — and could end up jeopardizing any shot at a deal in the long run.