GOP Sees Chance To Attack Obama On Rising Gas Prices

Rising gasoline prices, trumpeted in foot-tall numbers on street corners across the country, are causing concern among advisers to President Obama that a budding sense of economic optimism could be undermined just as he heads into the general election.

White House officials are preparing for Republicans to use consumer angst about the cost of oil and gas to condemn his energy programs and buttress their argument that his economic policies are not working.

In a closed-door meeting last week, Speaker John A. Boehner instructed fellow Republicans to embrace the gas-pump anger they find among their constituents when they return to their districts for the Presidents’ Day recess.

“This debate is a debate we want to have,” Mr. Boehner told his conference on Wednesday, according to a Republican aide who was present. “It was reported this week that we’ll soon see $4-a-gallon gas prices. Maybe higher. Certainly, this summer will see the highest gas prices in years. Your constituents saw those reports, and they’ll be talking about it.”

Iran’s recent warnings of a disruption in the global oil trade have pushed the price of a barrel of domestic oil to more than $103, a six-month high and up about 34 percent since September. That has helped drive the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States to $3.52, a 30-cent increase in the past two months. It is already approaching $4 in some places.

Modest drag at this point
Economists say the current price of oil is only a modest drag on the economy. But a big jump — combined with tensions over Iran and continuing European debt worries — could present a more significant challenge to America’s recovery, they say.

For the president’s economic team, the specter of such increases in oil prices comes on the heels of positive economic news that has lifted Mr. Obama’s approval rating, including better-than-expected job growth, a surging stock market and a payroll tax deal that will put more money in the pockets of millions of Americans.

But Mr. Boehner’s message to his members echoes the aggressive talk coming from the Republican campaign trail, where the men vying for the right to challenge Mr. Obama are increasingly blaming Mr. Obama’s administration for rising gas prices. A gallon of gas had dropped to $1.89 when Mr. Obama took office in 2009, in large part because of the fall in oil demand caused by the financial crisis, and has almost doubled since.

“They want higher energy prices. They want to push their radical agenda on the public,” Rick Santorum said at a campaign event last week, accusing Democrats of pushing alternatives to oil. “We need a president who is on the side of affordable energy.”

Newt Gingrich wrote on Twitter on Friday that “gasoline prices are unacceptable. We can do better!” He urged his supporters to sign a petition on his Web site calling for a return to $2.50-a-gallon gas. “Drill here. Drill now. Pay less,” the petition says.

And talking points from the Republican National Committee that go out to conservative commentators every Friday often include rising gas prices among the “Top Line Messaging” for the week. A recent “Pundit Prep” document cited the national debt, unemployment and the price of gas as the three best ways to define the “Obama economy.”

'Keenly aware'
The president’s political advisers are bracing for battle as they envision the price of gas rising steadily through the summer, as it usually does. As the president’s motorcade whisked him through scenic Orange County on Thursday on the way to a California fund-raiser, one sign held by a protester read, “Gas prices up 91 percent under Obama.”

Aides say they know the attacks are inevitable. But they also say they are prepared to respond forcefully with a defense of the president’s energy policies and a critique of the Republican line.

“The president is keenly aware of the impact that higher gas prices have on families trying to make ends meet,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said last week.

For Mr. Obama’s economic team, the increase in oil prices is an unwelcome reminder of how global events largely outside their control can hamper a recovery. For the third year in a row, a modest recovery faces head winds as winter turns to spring.

In the spring of 2010, debt crises in Europe, slowing stimulus spending and weakness in the housing market brought an abrupt halt to a brief turnaround in the United States economy. A year later, turmoil in the Middle East, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and more debt problems in Europe did the same. Now, rising gasoline prices, concern over tensions with Iran and, once again, European debt are causing worries.

On a call with reporters on Friday, Alan B. Krueger, the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, said rising oil prices threatened to eat into household budgets and sap confidence — as they did last year. But he said the agreement to extend last year’s payroll tax cut would help.

“The payroll tax cut provides some cushion for families in case they see their costs go up, possibly because of gasoline prices or for other reasons over the course of the year,” Mr. Krueger said.

Focus on fuel efficiency
In speeches this spring, aides said, the president will increasingly focus on his administration’s actions to raise the fuel efficiency of cars and to open new areas to oil and natural gas development. They said they hoped the moves would counter the accusation that he has stifled oil production. On Friday, the Interior Department announced an expansion of oil exploration in Arctic waters.

Mr. Obama has also begun once again to express his personal concern for the impact of gas prices on pocketbooks, as he did last week while pressing Congress to extend the tax cut, which is about $40 per paycheck for a family making $50,000 a year.

“If we start seeing significant increases in gas prices, losing that $40 could not come at a worse time,” the president said Tuesday.

A counterattack being planned by the Obama re-election team in Chicago is expected to point out, among other things, Mitt Romney’s actions to raise gas taxes when he was governor of Massachusetts. And Mr. Obama’s Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are eager to renew a nationwide discussion about tax subsidies to oil companies.

“House Republicans are very good at using every argument they can to shield oil companies from paying their fair share,” said Representative Steve Israel of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “They have been relentless and fearless protectors of oil company profits.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill say they are eager to criticize the president as gas prices rise, in part with a flurry of legislation aimed at increasing domestic production.

They also plan to use Mr. Obama’s decision to block the immediate construction of Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile pipeline that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf Coast. A Republican bill was passed by the House on Thursday to expand offshore drilling and force a permit to be approved for the pipeline.

In an interview, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House whip, mocked Mr. Obama’s claim to want an “all of the above” energy policy.

“He says it in his State of the Union, and then a week later he kills Keystone,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I think energy is going to be one of the major issues in this election, and it’s going to peak in two months.”

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  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Mar 7, 2012 at 05:35 AM
    ■Jan. 7, 2010 – The Obama administration announces new bureaucratic hurdles to American energy production that Secretary Salazar admitted “could add delays to the leasing and drilling process.” Gas is $2.67 a gallon. ■March 31, 2010 – Instead of opening new areas to energy exploration and development, President Obama blocks deep-ocean energy production on 60 percent of America’s Outer Continental Shelf. Gas is $2.80 a gallon. ■Dec. 1, 2010 – The president re-imposes and expands the moratorium on offshore energy production. Gas is $2.86 a gallon. ■Jan. 2, 2011 – TIME reported that the Obama administration issued the first in a series of regulations on January 2 designed to unilaterally impose a national energy tax. Gas is $3.05 a gallon. ■May 5, 2011 – The White House issues a formal statement opposing House-passed Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act and Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, legislation designed to jumpstart [sic] American energy production, address rising gas prices, and help create new jobs. Gas is $3.96 a gallon. ■June 21, 2011 – The White House opposes the House-passed Jobs & Energy Permitting Act that would unlock an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Gas is $3.65 a gallon. ■Nov. 8, 2011 – The Obama Administration releases a plan for a five-year moratorium on offshore energy production, placing “some of the most promising energy resources in the world off-limits,” according to the House Natural Resources Committee. Gas is $3.42 a gallon. ■Jan. 18, 2012 – President Obama rejects the bipartisan Keystone XL pipeline and the more than 20,000 jobs that would come with it. Gas is $3.39 a gallon, and rising faster and earlier than ever before.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:12 AM
    If he were to be re elected this is the truth; Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich slammed the Obama administration’s handling of rapidly escalating gas prices, saying that he believes the president’s ultimate goal may be to use $9 a gallon gas to revamp the economy along European lines “This president and his secretary of anti-energy, Dr. Chu, have as a goal getting us to pay European-level prices of $8 or $9. Dr. Chu was clear about that before he became secretary. He wants us to get to be a European-level price structure of $8 or $9 a gallon,” Gingrich told “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. “He said this week, in testifying in the House, he has ‘no intention of trying to lower the price of oil or the price of gasoline,’" Gingrich added. "The American people on the other hand would much rather pay $2.50 and be independent of Saudi Arabia than be where we are today. ” Read more on Gingrich: Obama's Secret Goal is $9 Gas Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama's Re-Election? Vote Here Now! Answer; No
  • by Crazy Repugs on Feb 28, 2012 at 05:39 AM
    John Boehner and his GOP/Tea Party cohorts think the public is stupid. Who voted not to cut off the $10B in tax subsidies to the oil companies. Yes is was the Republicans including John and Eric Cantor. You idiots think we were not watching when you took that vote. Guess what? We were. I cannot wait until many of you are voted out of office for making up lies and not doing anything to improve this economy.
    • reply
      by Public Info on Mar 13, 2012 at 06:23 PM in reply to Crazy Repugs
      There is no such thing as subsidizes for oil companies, they are receiving tax breaks just like most all large corporations. Obama is calling them subsidizes to further his agenda. The big 5 oil companies only average a profit of less than 7 cents on every dollar spent. That does not sound like a greedy corporation unlike when Obama says they are making $40 billion dollars annually. If they risk spending $600 billion why shouldn't they make a little profit?
  • by Cap Gains on Feb 27, 2012 at 02:59 AM
    The price of gas is not a bad thing. Some people in this country have invested their money wisely and are profiting from it? I caan understand why so many people are upset by the prosperity of the gas industry. We live in a country where "free marketing" is encouraged . I do not beleive anyone should control the price of gas. Eventualy the economy will work itself out. The fact that some people in this country suffer only serves to prove that someone has to make sacrifices in order for our country to be worldwide more enterprising. We should be giving the "oil" guys a two thumbs up. Poor people or the less fortunate people will survive , they always do.You could give them free gas and they still will not overcome their way of life.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 28, 2012 at 02:14 AM in reply to Cap Gains
      No problem with Free marketing, but when the cards are all stacked in your favor, I have a problem with it.
  • by Blame Obama Location: Havelock on Feb 26, 2012 at 03:22 PM
    Wake up this is a ploy for you to buy a new car . Car's and Gas hand and hand. but the cost of a new car that gets ok gas milage is 35.000 and up . get real you save in the long run by keeping you own car you will never make up the savings the higher the price of gas the higher the price of cars go with good mpg go up as well. You never save.
    • reply
      by ???? on Feb 28, 2012 at 02:17 AM in reply to Blame Obama
      What are you talking about? Ford, Chevy and Chrysler all have cars that get high mileage for less than $35,000. Heck, my 1995 Cavalier gets over 30 mpg. Have you been listening to Glenn Beck again?
  • by Anonymous on Feb 25, 2012 at 06:08 PM
    I can't wait until gas hits $ 5/gal this year. I'll quit buying food just to pay for my cars gasoline. The good thing is that I'll lose 30 lbs and be in better shape and obama will be VOTED OUT OF OFFICE ! Again, I can't wait !
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Feb 24, 2012 at 09:40 PM
    I miss the good ole days. When G W Bush's last month as President gas was only $1.61 a gallon & unemployment was only 5%. If you want the facts Goggle the charts. No spin here!
    • reply
      by and.. on Mar 3, 2012 at 02:35 AM in reply to Wolfgang
      yea right snake , plus two george duBYa wars that we will be paying for the next 50 years.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 3, 2012 at 11:50 PM in reply to Wolfgang
      I miss the days when gas was .35 cent a gallon.
  • by GOP sees chance to attack Obama on rising gas prices? on Feb 24, 2012 at 05:40 PM
    The GOP is also Attacking the Very Same Majority of Americans who elected him to clean up the Republicans Mess they left us all. They have sat on their hands for his entire term in Office and Obstructed him at every turn. In the Immortal words of Mitch McConnel, "I will make sure he is a one term President" For President Obamas entire term in Office, the GOP has also obstructed the Will of the American People who chose him to clean up their mess and I hope every American who Voted for President Obama Remembers this come Election time...
    • reply
      by Luke on Feb 24, 2012 at 08:08 PM in reply to GOP sees chance to attack Obama on rising gas prices?
      You forgot to blame G W Bush for high gas price? LOL
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 28, 2012 at 02:19 AM in reply to Luke
        So, Bush policies led to the capture of Bin Laden, but his policies did not lead to high gas prices......priceless.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 24, 2012 at 05:38 PM
    Boehner is so full of himself , oil companies are funding the republican election machine , they wont take away oil corporations tax subsidies , the rich people who have money to speculate oil prices on wallstreet do it at the cost of the consumer who fills up at the pump . If the President wants to counter this tell Boehner to put some bills on the floor to build more oil refineries here . Boehner wont because it would be a jobs bill and would help the working class people in our country.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 23, 2012 at 06:12 AM
    Fox news says oil production has increased in this country. It also says that oil consumption has decreased. So let me get this right, supply has increased in our country, demand has decreased in our country, we still subsidize big oil, and yet the price of gas is at record highs. It sure sounds like these companies are really interested in the future of the American people. Why should any of our tax money provide bonuses for big oil?

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