High gas prices and oily political rhetoric don't mix
President Obama and Republicans eye rising gasoline prices and think 2012. Too many of their responses aren't aimed at weaning America off oil.
Trying to tank up less often? GOP and Democratic leaders are doing the opposite – filling up on political rhetoric to score points or deflect criticism at a time of rising gasoline prices.Skip to next paragraph
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Like a desert-highway mirage, the political back-and-forth could mislead Americans as to what lies ahead.
Republicans, focused on gains to be made in 2012, see prices in the $4-a-gallon range as a reason to blame President Obama – just as Democrats blamed President Bush for the record high price at the pump in 2008, when the national average hit $4.11 in July.
One “mirage” lies in three House bills passed by the Republican-controlled Natural Resources Committee. The legislation expands offshore oil drilling. But backers conveniently overlook the fact that more offshore drilling wouldn’t change gas prices for at least 10 years, and even then marginally – by perhaps 3 cents a gallon, according to studies by the Energy Information Administration.
In March, Republicans launched an attack ad against Rep. Nick Rahall over gas prices. The Democrat from West Virginia used to head the Natural Resources Committee, and last year pushed safety and environmental improvements for offshore drilling. He opposes the GOP’s three drilling bills.
House Speaker John Boehner says higher gas prices could cost President Obama his office, and this is not lost on the president. Mr. Obama’s ratings have dropped as gas prices have risen. Seven in 10 Americans say high gas prices are a financial hardship, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll this week. Looking toward Obama’s 2012 reelection bid, 53 percent of those who feel serious hardship from gas prices say they definitely won’t vote for Obama.