Dear Commons Community,
We are being inundated everyday about rising oil prices which affect the cost of of almost everything we do since we drive cars, heat our homes and buy goods and products that have to be delivered by truck to a store or outlet. We are also coming to the end of what has to be one of the warmest winters in recent years and Americans are driving less yet gasoline prices are going up. It doesn’t make sense unless of course there is some collusion on the part of the big oil companies (they are enjoying super profits this year) or speculators who just play the commodities market and attempt to influence prices to their future benefit. The Huffington Post has a piece asking the opinions of several or our political leaders on this issue. Here is their take:
“American families and small businesses continue to struggle, and they’re especially feeling the impact of rising gas prices, which have doubled under President Obama,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters in his weekly briefing.
In the other chamber, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) took to the floor to make the GOP case in the wake of Obama’s speech. “It’s clear that the president is defensive on this issue,” said Barrasso, who also blamed Obama for a doubling of of gas prices.
Neither he nor Boehner noted that the current average of $3.73 per gallon is lower than the price at the start of the recession during the Bush administration.
“The president’s polices are at best ineffective and at worst are contributing to the higher gas prices,” Barrasso said, before hitting the week’s mantra of demanding more drilling.
“The president actually has some options that make a lot of sense to a lot of Americans,” said the senator, “and that option, of course, is to increase American energy production.”
Obama renewed his request to end $4 billion in tax subsidies that the oil companies still receive every year, even as they’re reaping record profits. The GOP was quick to attack that as well.
“Democrats have already acknowledged that the idea the President discussed today won’t lower gas prices,” Boehner said later the same day in a statement. “In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says it would increase them. Republicans are focused on an all-of-the-above energy policy, and I remain hopeful the President will follow through on his commitment to work with us to increase the supply of American-made energy.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried a different angle in the Democratic pushback, suggesting that the top driver of gas prices right now is not supply but aggressive speculation in oil markets. She pointed to blocked efforts by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to stop such speculation, which the CFTC estimates adds more than 50 cents a gallon to the price of gas.
“What’s happening about the price at the pump is very interesting,” Pelosi said in her weekly press conference. “Supply is going up, demand is going down, and the price is going up,” she said, referring to recent data to that effect.
“So how do you explain that?” Pelosi asked. “You explain it by recognizing that Republicans are protecting Wall Street speculators responsible for driving up the pain at the pump.”
I lean with Pelosi on this!