Obama's ridiculous story that the doubling of gasoline prices under his watch is a result of economic recovery doesn't fit the facts. According the National Bureau of Economic Research, responsible for officially designating when recessions start, the recession began in December of 2007. The average price for a gallon of gasoline that month, according the Energy Information Administration, was $3.02. The price rose for the next seven months with the country in recession. The price peaked in July of 2008 at $4.06 a gallon, more than half a year into recession, exacerbating economic pain and spurring the national protest movement that gave us "Drill Here, Drill Now" and "Drill, Baby, Drill."
That July 2008 peak coincided with a critical policy change. On July 14, 2008, President Bush lifted the executive branch moratorium on offshore drilling that his father had put in place. That indicated a consolidation of support for offshore drilling that stalled the run-up in prices at the pump. In the next two months, the average price dropped more than thirty cents to $3.70.
Grassroots activists pressed even harder, demanding Congress lift the remaining barrier to offshore drilling, the appropriations rider that had been in place since 1981. The pressure on Obama was so intense that he even reversed his opposition, claiming on August 1, 2008, that he would support offshore drilling under some circumstances.
Meanwhile, activists ratcheted up pressure on Congress and the White House, urging Congress to let the ban expire. Facing organized opposition in Congress, a Bush veto threat, and overwhelming public opinion in favor of drilling, Nancy Pelosi caved. After 27 years, the ban on offshore drilling was officially lifted on October 1, 2008.
With the moratorium lifted, markets anticipated future production of the estimated 19.1 billion barrels of oil (equal to 30 years of imports from Saudi Arabia) in the Outer Continental Shelf. Market psychology abruptly reversed, and the price at the pump dropped sharply.
It reached a low of $1.79 in January 2009, the month of Obama's inauguration. That's no coincidence.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.
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