Obama’s gaso­line ex­cuse ma­chine

Pres­i­dent’s ef­fort to shore up en­ergy strat­egy not go­ing down well

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

Pres­i­dent Obama no­ticed spi­ral­ing gaso­line prices have opened a hole in his bid for a sec­ond term in the White House large enough to drive a fuel tanker through. Amer­i­can vot­ers ought not to let the pres­i­dent fill that void with lame ex­cuses or empty prom­ises. There’s only one way to prove his lead­er­ship for an­other four years will pull gas costs back from the red zone: Let the oil flow.

Prices at the pump have soared to near-record lev­els, now av­er­ag­ing $3.84 a gal­lon na­tion­wide. GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates have cor­rectly laid blame at the Oval Of­fice door. Mr. Obama has fired back that there’s “no sil­ver bul­let” that will bring down gas prices. Stick­ing to his guns, he lob­bied Demo­cratic sen­a­tors ear­lier this month to block Re­pub­li­can ef­forts to res­ur­rect the pro­posed 1,700 mile Key­stone XL oil pipe­line, which would have sup­plied the United States with 700,000 bar­rels of Cana­dian crude a day.

The “no sil­ver bul­let” ar­gu­ment has proved to be a dud, how­ever, as polls show Amer­i­cans over­whelm­ingly blame the pres­i­dent for ex­pen­sive gas. A re­cent Washington POST/ABC News poll found two-thirds of Amer­i­cans dis­ap­prove of the way he is han­dling this pock­et­book is­sue.

The pres­i­dent has boasted that do­mes­tic oil pro­duc­tion has risen since he took of­fice in 2009 but fails to men­tion that op­er­a­tions on pri­vate lands are re­spon­si­ble for the in­crease. The amount of petroleum extracted from fed­eral lands — un­der White House ju­ris­dic­tion — ac­tu­ally fell 13 per­cent in 2011, ac­cord­ing to the In­sti­tute for En­ergy Re­search. Tum­bling in tan­dem is oil yield from the Gulf of Mex­ico, drop­ping from a third of the na­tion’s to­tal to a quar­ter since Mr. Obama clamped down on off­shore drilling fol­low­ing the 2010 BP oil spill. His over­all ap­proval rat­ing like­wise has skid­ded 9 points in the past month to a dis­mal 41 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent New York Times/cbs News sur­vey.

Mr. Obama has taken to charg­ing that his GOP pres­i­den­tial chal­lengers act as if they can wave “a magic wand” and pro­vide an end­less sup­ply of cheap gas. Mean­while, he has con­jured some magic of his own, pres­sur­ing Saudi Ara­bia to sell the United States more petroleum, and the king­dom has re­sponded by boost­ing ship­ments by 25 per­cent since the be­gin­ning of the year. In­creased sup­ply is meant to lower gas prices by eas­ing oil-mar­ket jit­ters over po­ten­tial dis­rup­tions aris­ing from Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram. So far, it hasn’t worked.

Dur­ing his Satur­day ra­dio ad­dress, Mr. Obama vil­i­fied Big Oil and urged Congress to end its an­nual tax breaks worth $4 bil­lion: “Your mem­ber of Congress should be fight­ing for you, not for big fi­nan­cial firms. Not for big oil com­pa­nies.” Killing the tax de­duc­tions would only make gas even costlier as com­pa­nies pass along the costs to con­sumers.

In­hibit­ing do­mes­tic oil pro­duc­tion and in­creas­ing en­ergy de­pen­dency on un­friendly regimes con­signs the na­tion to per­sis­tent eco­nomic hard­ship. It doesn’t take a wizard to divine what polls are say­ing: If you want a sec­ond term, put down the magic wand, drilling bans and green fan­tasies. Let the free mar­ket pro­vide af­ford­able gas.

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