It’s back to fu­ture on gas prices

Obama played up is­sue in ’08

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY DAVE BOYER

Four years ago, pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Barack Obama held a photo-op news con­fer­ence at a gas sta­tion near In­di­anapo­lis to de­cry the na­tion’s in­ef­fec­tive en­ergy pol­icy and com­plain about “gas that’s ap­proach­ing $4 a gal­lon.”

At the time, the price of a gal­lon of reg­u­lar un­leaded at Joe’s Junc­tion was $3.55.

Nowa­days, the price of gas at the same sta­tion un­der Pres­i­dent Obama has topped $3.80, nearly twice what it was when he took of­fice, and pres­i­den­tial spokesman Jay Car­ney on Mon­day de­cried Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates who prom­ise to lower the price at the pump. He said Mr. Obama won’t pan­der to vot­ers that way.

“What he is not will­ing to do is to look the Amer­i­can peo­ple in the eye and claim that there

is a strat­egy by which he can guar­an­tee the price of gas will be $2.50 at the pump,” Mr. Car­ney said, cit­ing a fig­ure that Re­pub­li­can Newt Gin­grich has said he would achieve as pres­i­dent.

“Any politi­cian who does that is ly­ing, be­cause it just — that strat­egy does not ex­ist. It is a sim­ple fact that there is no such plan that can guar­an­tee the price of oil or the price at the pump. You have to have an ‘all of the above’ ap­proach.”

The Gin­grich cam­paign fired right back Mon­day, with spokesman Joe Desan­tis say­ing the for­mer speaker “has the White House run­ning scared and run­ning on empty” while of­fer­ing “fan­tasy so­lu­tions” to high gas prices.

Amer­i­can vot­ers “want Newt’s $2.50 gas plan to dra­mat­i­cally in­crease do­mes­tic oil pro­duc­tion so we can get lower prices at the pump,” Mr. Desan­tis said in a state­ment.

As a poll shows Amer­i­cans are hold­ing Mr. Obama re­spon­si­ble for soar­ing gas prices, the pres­i­dent Mon­day trum­peted an ad­min­is­tra­tion re­port that praises him for re­duc­ing the coun­try’s reliance on for­eign oil.

“We have made progress, with im­ports of for­eign oil de­creas­ing by a mil­lion bar­rels a day in the last year alone,” Mr. Obama said in a state­ment. “Our fo­cus on in­creased do­mes­tic oil and gas pro­duc­tion, cur­rently at an eight-year high, com­bined with the his­toric fuel-econ­omy stan­dards we put in place, means that we will con­tinue to re­duce our na­tion’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity to the ups and downs of the global oil mar­ket.”

To high­light the in­ter­a­gency re­port, Mr. Obama sched­uled in­ter­views Mon­day at the White House with tele­vi­sion sta­tions from eight mar­kets across the na­tion — Los An­ge­les; Den­ver; Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Or­lando, Fla.; Cincin­nati; Las Ve­gas; and Pitts­burgh. Six of those cities — Los An­ge­les and Austin be­ing the ex­cep­tions — are in 2012 bat­tle­ground states.

Even be­fore the pres­i­dent could give those in­ter­views, how­ever, the price of gas at the pumps rose again. The mo­torist ad­vo­cacy group AAA said the na­tional av­er­age price for a gal­lon of gaso­line rose nine-tenths of a cent to higher than $3.80. Prices rose 3.4 cents per gal­lon over the week­end.

Last year at this time, the av­er­age price of gaso­line stood at $3.56 per gal­lon.

A spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Re­pub­li­can, said the re­port un­der­scores that Mr. Obama isn’t fo­cused on the im­me­di­ate is­sue of higher gaso­line prices.

“With this re­port, the pres­i­dent is cel­e­brat­ing his recipe for $4 or $5 gas,” Boehner spokesman Bren­dan Buck said. “Poll af­ter poll show Amer­i­cans over­whelm­ingly dis­ap­prove of the pres­i­dent’s work on gas prices. And rather than em­brace Re­pub­li­can ef­forts to in­crease Amer­i­can en­ergy pro­duc­tion, all he’s of­fer­ing is a his­tory les­son of how we got here.”

Vot­ers are show­ing signs of hold­ing Mr. Obama re­spon­si­ble. Al­most two- thirds of Amer­i­cans, 65 per­cent, said they dis­ap­prove of the way Mr. Obama is deal­ing with ris­ing prices at the pump, ac­cord­ing to a Washington PostABC News poll pub­lished Mon­day. Only 26 per­cent — Mr. Obama’s low­est rat­ing in the poll — said they ap­prove of his han­dling of the is­sue, while a ma­jor­ity, 52 per­cent, said they “strongly” dis­ap­prove.

The pres­i­dent’s over­all job ap­proval has suf­fered as well with high gaso­line prices. His ap­proval rat­ing in the poll is 46 per­cent, down from 50 per­cent in the same poll last month.

Mr. Obama said high gas prices “are a painful re­minder that there’s much more work to do to free our­selves from our de­pen­dence on for­eign oil and take con­trol of our en­ergy fu­ture.”

“And that’s ex­actly what our ad­min­is­tra­tion is com­mit­ted to do­ing in the months ahead,” he said.

To dis­cuss the re­port, the White House pre­sented not En­ergy Sec­re­tary Steven Chu, but In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ken­neth L. Salazar and Heather Zichal, a pres­i­den­tial ad­viser on en­ergy pol­icy. Mr. Chu gar­nered neg­a­tive head­lines last week when he tes­ti­fied to Congress that low­er­ing gas prices was not the over­all goal of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s en­ergy pol­icy.

Mr. Salazar said one of the op­tions to lower gas prices would be to re­lease oil from the U.S. Strate­gic Petroleum Re­serve.

“All op­tions are at the ta­ble be­cause the pres­i­dent ob­vi­ously feels the pain that the Amer­i­can peo­ple are fac­ing with re­spect to gas prices,” Mr. Salazar said.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials also are cit­ing un­rest in the Mid­dle East as a cause of higher gas prices. In June, when the rev­o­lu­tion in Libya was blamed in part for ris­ing prices, Mr. Chu an­nounced that the U.S. would lead an in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to tap petroleum re­serves, in­clud­ing dip­ping into the Strate­gic Petroleum Re­serve to re­place some of the lost oil pro­duc­tion.

At the time, the 28 na­tions that make up the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency — which was formed to respond to ma­jor dis­rup­tions in oil sup­ply — agreed to re­lease a to­tal of 60 mil­lion bar­rels of oil. Half of that was to come from the U.S. re­serve.

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