Obama uses high gas prices to argue for end to ‘big oil’ subsidies

Paul Conner Executive Editor
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President Barack Obama is seeking to leverage high gas prices into a grassroots movement pressuring Congress to end subsidies for big oil companies, a political strategy that has little to do with lowering prices.

In his weekly address to the nation Saturday, Obama sought to redirect consumers’ anger with his administration to anger with Congress for allowing companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron to receive $4 billion from the federal government every year.

“Your member of Congress should be fighting for you. Not for big financial firms. Not for big oil companies,” Obama claimed.

“In the next few weeks, I expect Congress to vote on ending these subsidies,” he continued. “And when they do, we’re going to put every single Member of Congress on record: They can either stand up for oil companies, or they can stand up for the American people.”

The us-against-them strategy is the president’s attempt to use a tough political situation for his advantage, and it clearly has little to do with bringing down the price of gasoline. A study released last May by a pair of Democratic senators and a former Obama Treasury official found that ending oil subsidies would hardly affect gas prices.

In the past, Republicans have used the supply-and-demand principle to argue that the cost of ending the subsidies would be passed on to consumers. (RELATED: Full coverage of the Obama presidency)

For the second week in a row, he tweaked Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich‘s claim that he can deliver $2.50 per gallon gasoline.

“It’s easy to promise a quick fix when it comes to gas prices. There just isn’t one,” Obama told voters. “Anyone who tells you otherwise — any career politician who promises some three-point plan for two-dollar gas — they’re not looking for a solution. They’re just looking for your vote.”

The national gas price average was $3.83 for a gallon of unleaded Friday, a 32-cent increase from a month ago, according to AAA.

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