Rich Galen

Gasoline prices have climbed above $4 per gallon for regular at too many places across the nation. We know this because President Barack Obama has embarked on a four-day blitz to demonstrate his concern for high gasoline prices.

According to the U.S Energy Information Administration the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the country is $3.87 which is up about 30 cents from a year ago.

The highest prices are on the West Coast at $4.23. The lowest, next door in the Rocky Mountain region at $3.62.

Unemployment numbers are largely theoretical. At 8.3 percent (or 14.9 percent if you'd rather use the underemployed rate) we care more about whether it's going up or down. Either everyone in our family who wants job has one, or they don't.

Gasoline prices are different. Everyone with a car or truck has to fill his her or his tank on a regular basis. They know pretty much to the nearest dollar how much it should cost. When it costs more dollars, they notice. It is not theoretical, it is actual cash off the debit card.

Rising gasoline prices are a regressive tax on poorer Americans. They affect most those who can afford higher prices least.

My car has a 20 gallon tank. I generally fill it when I have about a quarter of a tank left. That means I need about 15 gallons about every two weeks. 30 gallons a month.

At $3.50 per gallon it will cost $105 per month for me to drive a normal pattern not counting trips to visit family and friends out of town.

At $4.00 per gallon I will spend $120 per month - 15 dollars more.

For me that is one fewer tall no-whip Starbucks mochas per week. Four morning mochas instead of five per week and I'm just about even.

But, for people on a fixed income or working at a close-to-minimum-wage job who are stretching the check to reach the end of the month is a struggle in the best of times. That $15 dollars is a big FIFTEEN dollars. It might well mean, not one fewer Starbucks a week, but one fewer meal for the family per week.

If I were advising the Republican National Committee - which I am not - I would be looking for a struggling family in every state, maybe in every Congressional district to tell the story of what $4 gasoline means to them. How they have to buy gas to get to work. They are trapped by higher prices.

I guarantee you if there were a Republican President the DNC would be doing just that.

This Administration has made some very bad bets that have made lowering prices more difficult.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at