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To Newt, Cheap Gas Is Good

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Newt Gingrich presented a stark contrast between Republicans and Democrats on gasoline prices Saturday at the California GOP convention in Burlingame. Gingrich promised that if elected, he would bring gasoline prices below $2.50 per gallon.

A day earlier, in a signature speech on energy, President Barack Obama told the University of Miami that there "are no silver bullets short term when it comes to gas prices." Indeed, the problem of gasoline price spikes "won't be solved in one year; it won't be solved in one term; it may not be completely solved in one decade." (Just what you wanted to hear. Even given two terms, Obama doesn't expect to do much about high gasoline prices.)

Obama scoffed at Republicans' "three-point plan for $2 gas": "Step one is to drill. Step two is to drill. And then step three is to keep drilling." That's how savvy this president is; many Americans have paid more than $4 per gallon for gasoline this month, yet he mocked the common-sense notion that more product would lower prices.

To Obama, more domestic oil production is a "gimmicky" fix.

Democrats have been arguing that gas price spikes happen -- and they have a point. But so did Gingrich when he charged that high gasoline prices are part of a "deliberate strategy of the left to punish the American people and get them to drive the kind of cars they want you to." Gingrich charged that Obama "believes in small cars" and "high prices" and "government control."

Though the president gave lip service Friday to "an all-of-the-above energy strategy," he always has been contemptuous of old-school fossil fuels. One minute, he argues that America can't drill its way to lower gasoline prices. The next minute, he talks up the stimulative effects of experimental energy technologies. If algae-based fuels can replace imported oil, Obama said Friday, "that means greater energy security. That means lower costs. It means more jobs. It means a stronger economy."

Well then, wouldn't more domestic oil drilling do likewise? And do likewise faster? What is more, unlike the unproven technologies that Obama favors, oil is a known commodity.

President Obama campaigned for office on the promise of "green jobs." In May 2010, he came to a Fremont, Calif., solar-power plant, where he declared, "The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra." Last year, after receiving $528 million in taxpayer funds, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy.

The president's $787 billion 2009 stimulus project included $500 million to train workers for those much-ballyhooed jobs of the future. Last fall, the Department of Labor's inspector general released an audit that found that of the participants trained by June 30, only 2 percent -- 1,336 participants -- had held jobs for six months or longer.

Last month, Obama denied the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have created an estimated 6,500 construction jobs. Last week, Obama was talking up algae.

As Gingrich said in a campaign video, "it's almost as though anything which succeeds, anything which enables Americans to have a better life, with more income, with less expensive energy, is somehow bad."

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