"When gas prices go up, it hurts everybody. Everybody who owns a car, everybody who owns a business. It means you've got to stretch a paycheck even further. It means you've got to find more room in a budget that was already really tight. And some folks have no choice but to drive a long way to work. And high gas prices are like a tax straight out of your paycheck."
What the what? Uh, Mr. President -- taxes are like taxes straight out of your paycheck. And those taxes are even more galling when we know that a chunk of that change is going to fund the clean-energy "investments" that you make on our behalf, because we're apparently too stubbornly shortsighted to make them ourselves (or, forget about our direct taxes going to these investments -- how about the gigantic amount of debt the government is continually taking out in our name?). So, in other words, the President sorely sympathizes with Americans who feel the wide-reaching pain of high gas prices, but -- as @Iowahawkblog so aptly tweeted -- "Let them eat solar."
Of course, speaking from the University of Miami on Thursday afternoon, President Obama paid some great lip service to developing all sorts of American-made energy, and his messaging wasn't too different from what we heard in his State of the Union in January; indeed, it was all too similar. 'An America built to last.' 'An all-of-the-above energy strategy.' 'Government support is crucial to getting new energy ideas off the ground.' Except, no it isn't. In fact, government interference is completely counterproductive to getting new energy ideas of off the ground -- making decisions based on political expedience and wishful thinking only leads to excuses for more taxes/regulation/bigger government, distortions of all-important free market signals, crony capitalism, and the smothering of potential new ideas that don't happen to hold any political favor. President I-Know-Better-Than-The-Free-Market Obama's relentless iterations that the American people cannot be prosperous without the 'support' of the federal government are not only wrong, they're insulting.
But there were, of course, plenty of shots at Republicans, too. As Jay Carney illuminated on Tuesday with his disgraceful spin on the Keystone pipeline debacle, the White House is working hard on their messaging to cut the GOP off at the pass -- because, try as they might, high gas prices are never popular with the voting public. Quoting a newspaper headline, Obama said Republicans are "licking their chops" over the rising gas prices, but that their only solution is to "drill, drill, drill." But, "the American people aren't stupid... they know that's not a plan. It's a bumper sticker." Indeed, we aren't stupid -- so explain to me again why we need you to invest our own money in our energy sector, for us?
The President had some impressive-sounding statistics as well. "We only have two percent of the world's oil reserves, but we consumer 20 percent." Sounds scary, right? Womp, womp. He forgot to throw the word "proven" in there, and with just our proven reserves, we've got a long way to go (a way made even longer by the continually improving technological efficiency and innovation). He also talked about our abundant proven reserves of natural gas, but the EPA is hating on fracking like the plague. And, what would an Obama-speech be without a little bit of class-warfare rhetoric? He decried oil companies for "making a profit" off of Americans for years, insisting that they should receive no more help, and that the government should instead funnel those resources into green energy (instead of -- you know -- just giving taxpayers their own money back).
Between the two of them, President Obama and Rep. Nancy Pelosi are yet again managing to capitalize (heh) on that age-old populist hatred of big businesses -- yesterday, the former Speaker blamed the cost of oil and damage to the economic recovery on "Wall Street profiteering." What a pair they make!