Gas prices are political problem for Obama

March 17, 2012


— Yes, of course, presidents have no direct control over gas prices. But the American people know something about this president and his disdain for oil. The “fuel of the past,” he contemptuously calls it. To the American worker who doesn’t commute by government motorcade and is getting fleeced every week at the pump, oil seems very much a fuel of the present — and of the foreseeable future.

President Obama incessantly claims energy open-mindedness, insisting that his policy is “all of the above.” Except, of course, for drilling

l off the Mid-Atlantic coast (as Virginia, for example, wants),

l off the Florida Gulf Coast (instead, the Castro brothers will drill near there),

l in the broader Gulf of Mexico (where drilling in 2012 is expected to drop 30 percent below pre-moratorium forecasts),

l in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (more than half the size of England, the drilling footprint being the size of Dulles Airport),

l on federal lands in the Rockies (where leases are down 70 percent since Obama took office).

But the event that drove home the extent of Obama’s antipathy to nearby, abundant, available oil was his veto of the Keystone pipeline. It gave the game away because the case for Keystone is so obvious and overwhelming. Vetoing it gratuitously prolongs our dependence on outside powers, kills thousands of shovel-ready jobs, forfeits a major strategic resource to China, damages relations with our closest ally, and sends billions of oil dollars to Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin and already obscenely wealthy sheiks.

Obama boasts that on his watch production is up and imports down. True, but truly deceptive. These increases have occurred in spite of his restrictive policies. They are the result of Clinton- and Bush-era permitting. This has been accompanied by a gold rush of natural gas production resulting from new fracking technology that has nothing at all to do with Obama.

“The American people aren’t stupid,” said Obama (Feb. 23), mocking “Drill, baby, drill.” The “only solution,” he averred in yet another major energy speech last week, is that “we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down.” Yet five paragraphs later he claimed that regardless of “how much oil we produce at home ... that’s not going to set the price of gas worldwide.”

So: Decreasing U.S. demand will lower oil prices, but increasing U.S. supply will not? This is ridiculous. Either both do or neither does. Does Obama read his own speeches?

Obama says of drilling: “That’s not a plan.” Of course it’s a plan. We import nearly half of our oil, thereby exporting enormous amounts of U.S. wealth. Almost 60 percent of our trade deficit — $332 billion out of $560 billion — is shipped overseas to buy crude.

Drill here and you stanch the hemorrhage. You keep those dollars within the U.S. economy, repatriating not just wealth but jobs, and denying them to foreign unfriendlies. Drilling is the single most important thing we can do to spur growth at home while strengthening our hand abroad.

Instead, Obama offers what he fancies to be the fuels of the future. You would think that he’d be a tad more modest today about his powers of divination after the Solyndra bankruptcy, the collapse of government-subsidized Ener1 (past makers of the batteries of the future) and GM’s suspension of production — for lack of demand — of another federally dictated confection, the flammable Chevy Volt.

Deterred? Hardly. Our undaunted seer of the energy future has come up with his own miracle fuel: algae. Yes, green slime, upon which Steven Chu’s Energy Department will be sprinkling yet another $14 million of taxpayer money.

This is the very same Chu who famously said in 2008 that he wanted U.S. gas prices to rise to European levels of $8-$10 a gallon — and who Tuesday, eight months before Election Day, publicly recanted before Congress, Galileo-style.

Who do they think they’re fooling? An oil crisis looms, prices are spiking — and our president is extolling algae. After Solyndra, Keystone and promises of seaweed in their gas tanks, Americans sense a president so ideologically antipathetic to fossil fuels — which we possess in staggering abundance — that he is utterly unserious about the real world of oil in which the rest of us live.

High gasoline prices are a major political problem for Obama. They are not just a pain at the pump, however. They are a constant reminder of three years of a rigid, fatuous, fantasy-driven energy policy that has rendered us scandalously dependent and excessively vulnerable.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


501gdm2 6 years, 2 months ago

The article stated the president has no control over gas prices! That's wrong! His anti oil anti drill has helped bring prices up. He needs to wake up, but don't feel that will happen.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 2 months ago

Hahahahahahaha!!!!!!!1111 Go back 5 years and substitute the name Bush. (OMG I'm still laughing.)

tomatogrower 6 years, 2 months ago

I should think if Obama was friends with the big oil people they would keep the prices lower to guarantee his reelection. With friends like that who needs enemies?

cowboy 6 years, 2 months ago

"Oil production on federal lands and offshore during the first three years of the Obama administration was 13 percent higher than from 2006 to 2008, according to new government data, though it did decrease somewhat between 2010 and 2011."

It is amazing how ignorant much of the electorate is . The daily kool aid generated by the right wingers and consumed by the uninformed is beyond belief.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

No amount of drilling in this country will have any significant effect on the price of oil in a barrel or gasoline at the pump. Krauthammer knows that, but stating it would detract from his demagoguery.

And global warming/climate change? Nary a mention from Chuckie, apparently unable to utter such words with his head planted so firmly up his own backside.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Does this mean the shunning period is over? Or did you have yet another irresistible urge to express your ideological opposition to science?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Whatever. I'm happy to let true believers like you believe whatever hogwash you like.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Kinda interesting that the deniers totally ignore the science, but are quite comfortable with sophomoric mocking and name-calling.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Science is not on "my" side. Rather, I am on the side of science, as opposed to you, who are on the side of an ideology.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

So much for "discussion."

I like the shunning better. You have much more intelligent things to say when you say nothing at all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm not, but you are. And your mother wears army boots.

Take that!!!!!

OK, I win. If you don't believe me, just ask me.

Ah, the pleasures of baseless self-satisfaction.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

I am curious why all of a sudden you want to engage me in "discussion."

progressive_thinker 6 years, 2 months ago

Good luck for any president, republican or democrat, to get more power to regulate derivative trading. That authority got given away in the Clinton era.

The weakening of the dollar against the Euro largely occurred 2002-2008, when it took almost 1.60 USD to buy a Euro. The dollar has actually strengthened since then. As well, the dollar index is now stronger than it was in 08,

Orwell 6 years, 2 months ago

The last I heard, the president doesn't pass laws. You're right that speculation is behind the run-up in prices (aided by Republican candidates beating the war drum) but it would take approval by a majority in the House and a supermajority in the senate to get speculation under control. Republicans in the House, and enough in the Senate, have shown they'd rather let consumers suffer than allow an Obama accomplishment of ay sort. And, no surprise, they're not about to vote against the interests of their Big Oil paymasters reaping the benefits of high prices.

progressive_thinker 6 years, 2 months ago

"..the flammable Chevy Volt"

Too bad that Krauthammer cannot get past the political spin. The truth is that the Volt was never any more dangerous than a conventional vehicle. According to the NHSTA: ”Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”

Unfortunately, folks like Krauthammer have decided to untruthfully whip this up into something sinister, and in the process, continue to trash the American auto industry. Nothing but fiction for political points.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 2 months ago

p_t, let us know when you'll have your Volt on the street so we can find a safe place to watch from.

progressive_thinker 6 years, 2 months ago

Snap: thanks for the sarcastic remark that is utterly devoid of any facts or evidence that support your position.

We can always depend on you to properly represent the right wing!!!!

cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

This is what Krauthammer is talking about:


Note in particular the CBS/NYT and Gallup polls showing Obama at -6. it will only get worse for Bam as the public gradually catches on to the fact that he has always wanted the price of gasoline at the pump to increase, while he and his liberal Democrat pals have inflicted one failed "green energy" program after another on the nation, with billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars wasted in the process.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

A terminally stupid comment made by an incompetent pretender that we would still be hearing about via the liberal media if it had been made by any major public figure other than Obama.

Thanks for the reminder.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Actually, small changes like that do make a difference in mpg.

If people were also more mindful about other forms of energy usage, we could easily reduce our energy consumption.

Ken Lassman 6 years, 2 months ago

As if drill baby drill will bring down prices, either? Do you realize the investment costs of the new oil rigs? All the easy oil was pumped out decades ago; all the new oil is pricey as all gitout.

If the reason you think we should drill is to drop high gas prices, then step up to that air hose, please, I need some hot air to put into my tires.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

You said we could use less oil, sarcastically, as if it weren't true.

But it is true - changes like that will reduce our consumption.

Ken Lassman 6 years, 2 months ago

So lets drill our way out of the problem, right? You can't be serious about how this will drop gas prices. Even the Bush Administration's Dept. of Energy in 2005 said that the decline in reserves of cheaper oil is inevitable, and simple economics will reduce overall production as gas prices escalate.

beatrice 6 years, 2 months ago

"So the next time you hear a politician say that he or she will bring down oil prices, understand it is complete b.s." -- Bill O'Reilly

Armstrong 6 years, 2 months ago

Of course gas prices are a political problem for Obama and the rest of the enlightened. When you have a policy failure rate in the 90 percentile range it's really hard to look good on just about anyhting. Obama has charisma and appeal to some of the masses who base decisions on looks rather than content or productivity

Ken Lassman 6 years, 2 months ago

And what will the Republicans do? Wrap themselves around "conservative values," continue to prop up the status quo, allowing the rich to get richer, ignore the folks laid off by the Ponzi scheme economic collapse, and if Obama is re-elected, do knee-jerk votes against anything coming from the democrats.

Nobody is looking out for the country's best interests these days; even the possibility of consensus-based policies is anathema to the current crop of legislators. The system is broken and I don't know if it's possible to fix it, but a good start would be to throw out every congressman/woman incumbent and put someone in there willing to talk across the aisle instead of punching the "no" button if it isn't coming from their party.

Pastor_Bedtime 6 years, 2 months ago

But the "right-wingers" within the Republican party will more likely continue their tack that as Americans we must subscribe absolutely to their moral code and view of the role of Government, and where Republicans must align lock-step with the "right-wing" agenda, or they are part of the Radical Left or Socialist or whatever they want to label it. Bob Dole is a radical in their world, and their Repubican party doesn't want any of this moderate stuff. Not right wing = unwelcome. Insead of focusing on important issues like energy policy, radicals in my party will continue to wrap themselves in the bible and focusing on controlling women through restrictions on abortion and birth control. And they wonder why so many distrust them.

Calijhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

I find it interesting that there are suddenly no "obscene profits" being made by oil companies, as there were under Bush. What happened to the Senate hearings? Why no oil executives being stared down at by camera hogging Democratic senators?

Speculation is doing it? Sure it is. With the US not showing the market that it is willing or able in the long term to increase supply, speculation is going to drive the pump price up. Obama blocking the pipeline, restricting drilling and leasing, and blocking the construction of new refineries, he has shown his agenda of letting the American consumer continue to be strangled rather than stand up to his green-energy cronies. He's sending the message to the market loud and clear. "We're gonna keep the supply down, and there isn't anything you who drive cars can do about it!" His contempt for the average American is stunning.

Whether the electorate is "stupid" or not is not the issue, Mr. President. It's whether or not you have the political courage to take the steps necessary to fix the problem in the short AND LONG term. I don't think you do. You are too busy using our children and grandchildren's money to pay off your Union cronies (the General Motors workers) to build a "green friendly" Volt that, in short, is dangerous and doesn't work.


Gregory Newman 6 years, 2 months ago

– 1990-1992: Koch, along with several oil companies and Wall Street speculators, form a coalition lobbying group to deregulate oil speculation. A coalition called “The Energy Group” is organized to press the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to allow oil derivatives to be traded off the NYMEX or any other regulated exchange. Participants in the coalition include Koch, Enron, Phibro (a powerful commodity speculator firm recently sold from Citigroup to Occidental Petroleum), J. Aron & Co (a commodity trading division of Goldman Sachs), BP, and other companies.

– January 21, 1993. Wendy Gramm makes first major move to deregulate oil speculation. “On the final day of the [George H.W.] Bush administration, January 21, 1993, [CFTC chairwoman] Wendy Gramm … approved the rule exempting key energy futures contracts from government regulation and returned a great chunk of the energy market to the grand old days of unregulated futures trading,” writes author Antonia Juhasz in the book Tyranny of Oil. The move mirrored the demands made by Koch’s lobbying coalition, The Energy Group. Gramm, the wife of then-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX), leaves the Commodity Futues Trading Commission and a month later joins the board of directors of Enron.

Armstrong 6 years, 2 months ago

Fast forward 2009. B H O had a majority in the house and senate. Was oil speculation addressed, no we got Obamacare, 2 failed dstimulus and close to depression era unemployment rate. Fast forward 2012 gas $ 3.80 per gallon ( note: at no time during either Bush or Clinton did gas spike like it has during the current regeims reign )

progressive_thinker 6 years, 2 months ago

During the Bush administration, on May 23, 2008 the price of regular was 3.87. On July 7, 2008 the average price of regular was 4.11

Attached is a good clip of the right wing explaining why the president cannot control gas prices, and even advocating for conservation measures to reduce demand.


usnsnp 6 years, 2 months ago

It does not make any difference what either party said in the past, if it does not fit todays situation all they will say that they thought it over and their past statments were a mistake. At the present Canadian oil has no international outlet so it is sold to the United States, once the pipeline is built all this oil will go to the highest bidder, thus raising the price of gas in the Midwest. As China and India raise their standard of living they will use more oil unless you are going to tell them that they cannot raise their standard to living to match that of the United States. So it will make no differance in the amount of oil that we pump prices of oil will go up, bacause it will be sold to the highest bidder on the international market, this is called Free Trade,

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