Politics

Obama tries to cap oil leak with lawyers

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

With its public support leaking away as gas-prices rise past $4.00 per gallon, the White House is siccing the Justice Department on the energy industry, just like George W. Bush and legislators when they were hit by oil-price shocks.

“The Attorney General is putting together a team whose job it is to root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices, and that includes the role of traders and speculators,” Obama announced at his April 21 townhall meeting in Reno, Nev.

President George W. Bush adopted the same tactic in 2006, back when gas prices were still under $3.00. “This administration is not going to tolerate manipulation… Americans understand, by and large, that the price of crude oil is going up and that the prices are going up, but what they don’t want and will not accept is manipulation of the market,” Bush declared at the annual conference for companies in the ethanol industry, the Renewable Fuels Association.

“Every time the price of energy goes up, the politicians who are most responsible for getting us in this situation scream the loudest about high oil prices,” said Dan Kish, the research director for the Institute for Energy Research. “They won’t allow us to drill in [Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] or offshore, the price goes up and they scream.”

Politicians and pollsters say gas prices are pushing down the President’s approval numbers. The price has risen from roughly $2.70 a gallon when he was inaugurated to $4.00 now, and perhaps $5.00 by next year. A recent Gallup poll shows a sharp decline in Obama’s approval rating to 41 percent, a CNN poll from March shows that 64 percent said gas prices are causing hardship to their household. The gas prices are also unnerving consumers, possibly reducing confidence in future economic growth.

“My poll numbers go up and down depending on the latest crisis, and right now gas prices are weighing heavily on people,” Obama acknowledged at April 21 fund-raiser in California.

The political risk for the administration is clear. High gas prices can push swing-voters out of the Democratic column in November 2012. “This gas issue is serious,” Obama told the Reno audience. “It hurts because you know every time you go to work a big chunk of your paycheck is being eaten up.  And you might already be having trouble making ends meet at the end of the month… We’re going to make sure that nobody is taking advantage of American consumers for their own short-term gain.”

Republicans are eager to take advantage of the problem, partly because few voters blame the out-of-power party for gas-prices. “The White House is terrified of the gas price issue because many of their policies – like the national energy tax – are explicitly designed to raise energy prices,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “It was the President himself who said [in 2008] that under his plan, electricity prices would ‘necessarily skyrocket.’” Steel said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/June-Gagnon/1673686634 June Gagnon

    Well, naturally- -this criminally, corrupt administration has to do everything possible to “point the blame” away from themselves; that’s what they do, or haven’t you figured that out yet?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Nelson/100000172083764 Bill Nelson

    The political risk for the administration is clear. High gas prices can push swing-voters out of the Democratic column in November 2012. “This gas issue is serious,”

    REALITY CHECK: Swing voters have swung a while ago.

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  • opaobie

    In California alone the state and federal taxes and fees add $0.67 per gallon of gas as of the March and April figures from the Energy Commission. That is considerably more than the meager profit margin of the haulers, the refiners, the distributors, and the retailers COMBINED. Who is really “gouging”? It isn’t those in the private sector turning crude into gas at the pump.

    • hologram5

      67 cents isn’t that bad. Here in WA state it’s even higher than that. We are the second highest taxed state next to Taxachussetts. Gas here is taxed by a dollar and we have just as many refineries as Texas. Hell, in Anacortes WA there are two refineries there and they pay over $4 dollars a gallon. What’s wrong with that pic?

  • RationalRabbit

    Interesting that the public is critical of the President over oil prices, which he has little control over, rather than his handling of the economic crisis, in which he has the potential of a lot of influence and has no clue.

    Let’s see – he’s got Geithner advising him on economic policy and making decisions there … GE – one of the world’s largest corporations – who paid zero U.S. taxes last year advising him on U.S. job growth … why not have Standard Oil check into the gas price situation.

    Seems the general public only reacts when they can see immediate effects – such as gas prices rising. The things that are happening bit-by-bit never reach their consciousness. Everything Obama is doing here is just smoke and mirrors to appease the public. George Bush did the same.

    Obama is sitting in the middle of a pumpkin patch with a sign that says “Welcome Great Recovery!” and the majority of Americans, whether they like the President or not, are standing on the side lines hoping the recovery appears and imagining they see it coming this way.

    • truebearing

      Obama, and the environmental left, have everything to do with oil prices. When you prevent the production of domestic energy, you force our dependence on foreign sources which results in the inevitable diminished control over prices. Obama has blocked every form of domestic energy production and has openly admitted that his policies will “necessarily skyrocket” energy costs. Not only is he responsible, he fulfilling promises to destroy domestic energy production he openly made during his campaign.

      His policy in Libya effected oil prices, as did his ban on deepwater drilling, and his stonewalling on shallow water drilling. His EPA is harrassing the oil recovery in the western states, and list goes on, and on….

      he could drop oil prices by merely announcing he is allowing deepwater drilling and won’t block oil shale mining.

      • des1

        Also, his crap economy means a weaker dollar, which makes our price per gallon higher. So his administration causes the problem two ways.

  • HardRightTurn

    What law is Obama saying they will be breaking? The rule of profit making is buy low sell high. But then what would he know about it?

    • spike1120

      right on the button
      they revile profits except when they need more taxes
      bo’s plan has been to create Greece in America
      he’s well on his way

  • Two Elks

    It appears that the price of fuel and no jobs may bring down this corrupt administration. Throw in the cost of endless wars and he is in real trouble.
    I like the idea of a West/Trump ticket, we the the military expericence of West and the business experience of Trump.

  • russ311

    Creepy Obama administration policies:

    QE2 = inflation creep

    Libya = mission creep

    Afghanistan = withdrawal creep

    U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil drilling freeze = transferal to South America and Africa off-shore drilling industry creep

    Obamacare = furtherance of socialism creep

    General Motors government takeover = auto industry nationalization creep

    Obama firing of GM CEO = fascism creep

    Bank bailouts and Obama refusal to accept repayment = government centralization of money flow control creep

    Obama re-election campaign = revival of Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President = CREEP

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