Soaring gas prices pose a major electoral vulnerability to a President so damaged he refused to celebrate the two year anniversary of his marquee domestic accomplishment. That is why, for the past several weeks, President Obama and his administration have been in damage control mode.
At stops around the country, he sought to deflect blame for the pain Americans are experiencing at the pump. President Obama’s basic defense goes something like this: presidents cannot control the price of gasoline, but I have increased domestic oil production and decreased our reliance on foreign oil, so really, when you think about it, we’re winning the future.
Last week, Rush Limbaugh correctly pointed out that President Obama’s logic is flawed at best, bipolar at worst. You cannot claim increasing oil production is meaningless and then take credit for increasing oil production. The logistical gymnastics are enough to give you whiplash.
Even more interesting though is how President Obama attempts to convince Americans that decreasing oil imports (hello, Canada), is in their economic interests. In Cushing, Oklahoma last week, President Obama tried to make the connection that “reduc[ing] our dependence on foreign oil” will “ultimately help to curb the spike in gas prices.”
For that to be true, you would have to believe that oil is not a global commodity. Simply reducing our “dependence on foreign oil” will not influence the global price of oil. To have an impact on global prices we must produce more or use less.
During a speech in Miami, President Obama planted himself firmly in the use less oil camp. Amidst laughter, he said efficiency was one of the “easiest ways to reduce our dependence on oil.” Missing from the phrase was the word “foreign.” Was it simply just a slip of the tongue, or something more revealing?
Well, just a month earlier when President Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline, he claimed the rejection was part of his commitment to policies that reduce our “dependence on oil.” President Obama does not just want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, as he frequently states, but all oil.
Now, it may be tempting to dismiss the presence or absence of the word “foreign” as mere semantics – and that is exactly what the White House wants you to do. The truth, though, is that the policy implications are huge.
If you want to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil, as many do, you proceed with domestic oil production as rapidly as possible. With more than 200 years of oil in the ground, a strategy of domestic production makes sense…unless you are opposed to oil consumption.
Not only does President Obama constantly downplay the amount of oil America has in the ground, he has slowed domestic oil production on federal lands. According to his own Energy Information Agency, oil production on federal lands is down 13 percent this year and onshore leases in 2010 were the lowest since 1984. And the administration has withdrawn leases in Utah and Montana, cancelled sales in coastal regions and finalized burdensome regulations.
There should be absolutely no doubt that the Obama administration’s actions are consistent with the desire to end America’s use of oil, not simply our use of foreign oil. Their policies are not about lowering the price for consumers, but ending the use of oil and expediting our path towards a mysterious fuel of the future.
Even though Americans with cars understand oil is the fuel of the present, the Obama administration believes it is the fuel of the past. And unfortunately for American motorists, the Obama administration has strong and sympathetic allies in the U.S. Senate. This week, the Senate will debate a bill to increase taxes on domestic oil companies.
As is typical, though, they will claim the tax hike is designed to help consumers, who are paying too much at the pump. But when President Obama’s own deputy assistant for energy and climate change was asked if such a tax would lower prices, she deferred, saying it was about “fairness.”
President Obama will not make the argument that his policies are designed to bring down prices at the pump, because they are not. And on rare occasions, he will slip and acknowledge his true goal is to kill oil. That is a tough sell for drivers and voters, which is why President Obama will continue his tour of deflection.
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