On his way to a $30,000-a-person fundraiser on Thursday, President Obama paused to deflect the blame for the sky-high gasoline prices that are the latest hallmark of his administration — and the latest assault on the middle class from Washington. Contrary to what Mr. Obama said, there is a way to cut gas prices rapidly; it’s just incompatible with his ideology.
The price of gasoline today — an average of $3.61 across the country and $4.14 in California — is the highest ever for this time of year. It should be far less considering the U.S. and European economies are sputtering, which ought to be dropping the price.
But since entering office, Mr. Obama has waged a relentless war on domestic oil and gas producers. When you combine this with his feckless approach to national security and his weak dollar policy, you get gas approaching four bucks a gallon nationally.
The standard operating procedure for liberals when gas prices spike is to say that a turnaround in prices and an increase in supply would take many years. Mr. Obama dutifully repeated this myth this afternoon.
But as presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has pointed out, Mr. Obama could turn the tide on this beginning today by increasing production. Three simple immediate steps include:
First, the president could approve the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition to creating 20,000 jobs directly and 100,000 indirectly, the pipeline would bring 700,000 barrels of North American crude per day to the Houston refinery complex.
Second, the president could seriously reopen oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, which he all but halted to cover his administration’s incompetence after the Macando blowout. Increasing production to pre-Macando levels would add 400,000 barrels per day to U.S. supplies.
Third, he could open Alaska and permit exploration and production in the National Petroleum Reserve and the Chukchi Sea. These would bring the Trans-Alaska Pipeline up to full capacity and add 1.3 million barrels of oil per day to U.S. supplies.
In addition to taking these steps to increase the North American oil supply, two other moves could help.
First, Mr. Obama should end his dithering approach to an increasingly strident Iran that is threatening the Middle East. Obama aides including his secretary of defense were on Capitol Hill last week, claiming Iran was not proceeding with a nuclear bomb and furthermore stating that Iran was a “rational actor.” The liberal elite may believe this but oil traders do not — and they know the consequences of American weakness in that region.
Second, President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke should end the weak dollar policy that is driving up gas and food prices. Global commodities are traded in dollars and when you decrease the value of the dollar, those gas and food prices go up. Obama-Bernanke monetary policy worsens this since it involves massive creation of new dollars to fund runaway deficit spending by the Obama administration and Congress.
These are relatively easy steps that can alleviate Americans’ pain at the pump beginning today. They reflect the same ones that President Reagan took beginning on his first day in office, which brought prices down rapidly.
But President Obama is unlikely to take any of them. His halting of Keystone XL shows he remains more interested in the radical environmentalist goal of higher energy prices, even if it means sticking it to middle-class Americans, who bear the brunt of higher costs. Replacing Obama will be necessary.
Among the current GOP candidates for president, only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has focused on this issue and said he could lower prices to $2.50 a gallon. More important than Gingrich’s words is his proven ability to challenge the liberal elite and the Washington establishment that stands in the way of reform. As Mr. Gingrich noted during Wednesday night’s debate, “You’ve got to have somebody who can actually get it done in Washington, not just describe it on the campaign trail.”
Only Gingrich will plausibly take on the radical environmentalists and the bureaucrats at the EPA and the ever-growing list of other bureaucracies in Washington that care little about higher gas prices — or that actually want them high.
Christian Whiton is a senior advisor to the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign and deputy director of national security staff. During the George W. Bush administration, he was a senior advisor at the State Department.