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The Obama administration’s bizarre energy policy took another confused turn last week as the President asked Congress to spend $52 million for more oversight and investigation of petroleum markets. The crackdown would supposedly be aimed at “those who manipulate the market for private gain at the expense of millions of working families,” although neither Mr. Obama nor presidential press secretary Jay Carney could identify who these dastardly villains supposedly are, or if they even exist.
It was, even by this administration’s standards, a pathetically inept response to an issue that could be a big problem for the President come November: brutally high gasoline prices. Rather than addressing the well understood, free market supply and demand forces that keep driving up the price of crude, the administration resorted to class warfare once again, to the point of resurrecting the Enron boogeyman in a vain attempt to divert attention and decline responsibility for Obama’s spectacular failures with regard to energy issues. Even the Washington Post wasn’t buying it, taking the administration to task in an April 17 editorial:
“President Obama is fond of saying that there is no silver bullet to bringing down gasoline prices. On Tuesday, however, he went into the silver bullet business.”
Recent history shows that gas prices over time depend on a range of factors, predominantly supply and demand fundamentals, that the U.S. government can’t easily control. And even if bona fide Wall Street manipulation were a primary force moving prices, The Post’s Brad Plumer points out, the United States alone can’t police the world market.
Republican leaders were even more direct, dismissing the President’s proposal as nothing more than an election-year tactic:
“It probably polls pretty well, but I guarantee it won’t do a thing to lower prices at the pump,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
“The president has all the tools available to him if he believes the oil market is being manipulated,” said John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives.
This comes at a time when the Obama administration surpassed a dubious record that was previously held by the Carter administration (to which the current regime is often compared): the greatest increase in nationwide gasoline prices during a president’s term. Gas prices rose by 103.77 percent during James Earl Carter’s term in office. As of two weeks ago, gas prices have risen by 103.79 percent since Barack Hussein Obama took the oath. By way of comparison, gas prices dropped 66 percent during the Reagan years, rose by about 30 percent when Clinton was in office and climbed roughly 20 percent under George W. Bush.
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