Three years ago, when the average gallon of gas was spiking north of $4, Republicans said it was Obama’s fault. Yet today, with the average gallon falling south of $2.40, and reportedly going lower, Republicans are predictably mute.
Let’s follow the GOP’s logic (such as it is): If Obama deserved the blame when the pump price was high, surely he deserves the credit when the pump price is low, right? Nah. That’s not how the Republicans roll. They’ve simply flushed their ’12 talking points down the Orwellian memory hole.
On Labor Day, when I passed a station selling a gallon for $2.29, I resolved to dig up those memories. Ready for some fun?
Newt Gingrich said that Obama’s “anti-American energy government” would give us “$10-a-gallon gasoline.”
Mike Lee, the tea-partying Utah senator, said in ’12 that if Obama got re-elected, gas would cost $5.45 a gallon by the start of 2015.
Mitch McConnell said that the high pump prices were “the painful effects of President Obama’s energy policy.”
Mitt Romney said “the doubling of gasoline prices obviously follows a presidential policy.” He said Obama deserves blame “for what’s happened to gasoline prices under his watch.”
The Republican National Committee blamed the high pump prices on “the Obama economy.”
Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming said that Obama should be held “fully responsible for what the American public is paying for gasoline.”
Paul Ryan, the veep candidate, said that Obama was going “to great lengths to make gas more expensive.”
Rick Santorum said that Obama and his liberal wonks caused the pump price to rise because “they want higher energy prices. They want to push their radical agenda on the public.”
And so on. They basically argued that Obama, his environmentalist allies, and his energy advisers were conspiring, via socialist engineering, to make gas so expensive that motorists would drive less. Supposedly, Obama was jonesing for $10 gas so that we would be “more like Europe” – and that the price spike in 2012 was just his opening act.
Gee. How come they’re not admitting, three years later, that they were dead wrong?
I’m not saying that Obama deserves major credit for the currently falling pump price. The truth, as any graduate of Economics 101 well knows, is that presidents are largely bystanders. The pump price is tied to oil prices on the world market, and those oil prices fluctuate according to supply and demand. Lately, we’ve seen a big spike in supply (including a rebound of drilling in Libya and a shale-oil boom in America), coupled with dampened global demand (economic slowdowns in Europe and China). The result, in America, is that the average gallon is now nearly a buck less than a year ago.
In fact, the Oil Price Information Service says that the average motorist will save $60 at the pump this month alone, versus what he or she paid for gas in September ’14.
If Romney was in the White House, he and his GOP spinners would be calling this a tax cut – and claiming full credit.
Instead, Republicans are naturally saying nothing. And they certainly would never acknowledge that, in fact, Obama does deserve a modicum of credit for the low gas prices – specifically, for the dampening of demand. Because it’s his administration that has consistently and successfully pushed for improved fuel-efficiency standards. Put simply, motorists need less gas than they used to.
Ten years ago, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, cars, light trucks, and SUVs averaged 24.7 miles per gallon; in 2011, it was 29.6. And a University of Michigan study found that, in 2014, American vehicles drove five miles further on a gallon of gas than they did in 2008. When demand goes down, supply goes up, and prices drop. And we may see more of this over the next 10 years, because the Obama administration and the automakers have already forged a deal to raise fuel efficiency to 55 miles per gallon by 2025.
So now that the pump price is the lowest it’s been in 11 years, how about a show of contrition from the GOP? An admission that their rhetoric three years ago was cheap and stupid? As if.
By the way, when Gingrich was running for president, he promised that he would give us gas at $2.50 a gallon. Newt, we couldn’t have done it without ya.
From a story about Hillary Clinton in today’s New York Times: According to aides, “there will be new efforts to bring spontaneity to a candidacy that sometimes seems wooden and overly cautious….They want to show her humor….They want to show her heart.”
What is this, an HBO episode of Veep? If you have to map a strategy to show spontaneity, it’s not spontaneity.