Shifting Blame on Spiking Gas Prices

“Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.”

That was President Obama’s promise to the American people during his second (and last!) inaugural address.  Sadly, to no one’s surprise, President Obama was absent when news broke this week that gas prices surged more than 18 cents per gallon last week.

A surge of this magnitude is relatively rare.  According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an 18-cent increase has occurred just four other times since 1990.   Three of those increases occurred while President George W. Bush was in the White House, though two were hurricane induced.  The other happened two years ago, during President Obama’s first term.

Despite the depressing landmark, the White House has not yet commented, nor have journalists felt compelled to inquire.  In fact, the only time White House Press Secretary Jay Carney uttered the word “gas” this week was while rattling off the typical Democrat talking points about “subsidies to oil and gas companies.”

There has been little media scrutiny of policies currently in place that led AAA Chicago to declare “Highest gas prices for February start ever.”  NBC’s Tom Costello explained, “You can blame a lot of things here.  For the beginning, you can blame refinery shutdowns, the beginning of a shift over to summer blends and a perception on Wall Street that the economy is picking up.”

At least two years earlier, when gas prices rose 19 cents in the last week of February, there was some scrutiny of President Obama’s policies.

The Associated Press noted  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “is expected to be pressed by lawmakers concerned with rising gasoline prices about how slowly new permits have been issued.”  A Detroit News editorial lamented “domestic production is being curtailed by policies of President Barack Obama’s administration.”  By and large though, this 19 cent price spike ensuing 58 cent increase over the next ten weeks, was attributed to the turmoil in Libya.

For some perspective, compare the 18-cent increase that occurred during the second week of August 2005.  When gas prices reached $2.55 per gallon, the reaction was quick and cutting.

The Tampa Tribune (FL) screamed, “Bush Needs To Pump Up Confidence Of Gas-Shocked Nation.”  That would be hard, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA), which editorialized “motorists feeling a sharper pinch in the wallet each time they fill up their gas tank needn’t bother asking what the Bush administration and Congress have done to help them. The answer, obviously, is not much.”

Before she was a regular on the cable news circuit, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) decried the “unacceptable rise that we have seen in gasoline prices over the past year.”  Camera-seeking Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) lamented the “sky-high gas prices consumers are facing right now.”  His colleague Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) blamed the Bush administration for “fail[ing] to come up with a comprehensive energy policy to ensure that consumers are not vulnerable to tremendous swings in prices.”

That week, news articles all over nation placed blame squarely on the shoulders of President Bush and attempted to detail the pocketbook pain caused by consumers.  The Dallas Morning News (Texas) quotes one consumer filling his tank as saying, “It’s Bush.”

Where are the newspaper quotes of outraged motorists blaming Obama?  Where are the politicians condemning the Obama administration’s permitting and regulatory decisions?  The silence is deafening, and reaffirms we have entered a new normal in which gasoline hovering near $4 per gallon is an accepted hardship.

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