As Gas Prices Go Up, President Obama’s Approval Ratings Go Down
Allison F. Kassir
Although economists generally agree rising gas prices cannot be controlled by the President of the United States and are instead the result of a global market, unrest in the Middle East, and increasing demand from other countries such as China, the political reality is that the President always gets blamed.
Republicans have charged that gas prices have risen to support the Administration’s focus on alternative energy, citing the Administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, the bankruptcy of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra after it received over $500 million in federal funding, and a 2008 statement by Energy Secretary Steven Chu that boosting gas prices to European levels might encourage energy efficiency in the United States. Last week, amidst rumors that President Obama had reached an agreement with British Prime Minister Cameron to coordinate a release of petroleum reserves to alleviate price increases, Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso charged that “The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is for emergencies - not political disasters.”
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has suggested that President Obama should fire the “gas hike trio” of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and pursue the development of domestic oil, natural gas, and coal resources. Earlier this month, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich promised to bring gas prices to $2.50 per gallon, if elected.
The Obama Administration has taken the offensive, charging that “career politicians” running for the presidency have been promising a “quick fix” to lower gas prices while ignoring alternative sources of energy and charging that "If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they must have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society.” President Obama used his weekly radio address to warn Americans to be cautious of promises of easy solutions from politicians and to urge Congress to eliminate subsidies for “Big Oil” companies.
As long as gas prices continue to rise, expect continued partisan sparring over the causes of and solutions to the issue. This week, there are two House hearings scheduled on domestic natural resources and rising gas prices, and the potential of the Keystone XL pipeline to lower prices.