With gas prices reaching toward a $4-per-gallon national average, many are urging the Obama administration to take more action. In his weekly Internet and radio address, President Barack Obama approached the contentious issue by placing the onus on big oil.
“At a time when big oil companies are making more money than ever before, we’re still giving them $4 billion of your tax dollars in subsidies every year,” the president said. “Your member of Congress should be fighting for you. Not for big financial firms. Not for big oil companies.”
President Obama has made similar pronouncements in recent weeks, as he works to fend off political rivals who link his previous energy policies to the recent spike in oil prices. In addition to calling on Congress to stop the subsidies, the president has also been trumpeting the recently passed Wall Street reforms that he claims “bring energy markets out of the shadows and under real oversight.”
But according to Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in this weekend’s Republican Party address, “The most forceful thing the president has done about high gas prices is to try to explain that he’s against them.”
“After spending money we don’t have on what won’t work, and overregulating what would, is it any wonder gas prices have more than doubled on the president’s watch?” said Gardner on Saturday. “Make no mistake, high gas prices are a symptom of his failed stimulus policies.”
Critics point to the president’s reluctance to approve more domestic drilling, but Obama counters that the nation is now producing more oil at home than at any time in the last eight years. According to the president, many of the factors contributing to rising fuel costs are simply beyond the government’s reach.
“If we’re truly going to make sure we’re not at the mercy of spikes in gas prices every year, the answer isn’t just to drill more because we’re already drilling more,” Obama said.
Both the president and his critics claim to be working on strategies to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, and both support an all-of-the-above strategy to achieve it, but the differences lie in the details.
Gardner mentioned several House-passed energy bills sitting in the Democratic Senate waiting on a vote. Obama, meanwhile, looks to the predominantly Republican Congress with a plan the GOP has shown no sign of supporting.
While Rep. Gardner argues that the president is blocking “responsible American energy production” that would lead to lower fuel costs, Obama says the GOP’s legislative ideas just don’t address the true complexity of the issue.
“It’s easy to promise a quick fix when it comes to gas prices. There just isn’t one,” said the president. “Anyone who tells you otherwise—any career politician who promises some three-point plan for two-dollar gas—they’re not looking for a solution. They’re just looking for your vote.”