Can Obama Really Control Gas Prices?

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gas pricesI don’t know if you have noticed or not, but gas prices are on the rise yet again. There was a time, not more than a few months ago, when gas was getting as low as $2.98 a gallon. Now those times have changed with prices back up to nearly $4 in most areas and even higher in others. Lots of citizens are fuming over the rates and they want answers.

Many people are blaming Obama for the prices. They’re not so much accusing him of raising them but of not doing anything to decrease them. According to a recent poll conducted by CBS and the New York Times, 54% of respondents believe that Obama can do a lot to control gas prices. What’s more is that nearly two-thirds of the respondents to an ABC and Washington Post poll disapprove of Obama’s handling of the situation.

The people have good reason to blame the Obama administration as well, due to the fact that Obama criticized former President George W. Bush over the exact same issue when he campaigned in 2008. According to a statement from Obama to a crowd in Ohio, “You’re paying nearly $3.70 a gallon for gas – 2 1/2 times what it cost when President Bush took office.” Obviously not much has changed, has it?

However, most analysts don’t blame Obama for the increase in gas prices but instead say that rising tension with Iran is the primary factor. The rising tension is making traders nervous about a possible conflict in a crucial oil-producing region. If conflict does break out in Iran then a significant source of the world’s oil would be cut off.

Increased prices may also stem from the fact that Japan has been using increasingly more amounts of the “black gold” since shutting down nearly all of the country’s nuclear power plants after the Fukushima disaster last year. In addition to that, conflicts in countries like Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya have halted oil production from those countries.

Republicans believe that more domestic drilling the United States would help decrease prices. Gingrich says, if elected, that he has a plan to reduce gas prices to as low as $2.50 a gallon. However, citizens want immediate results and any plan to reduce gas prices, whether from domestic drilling or forcing automakers to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, would take years to go into effect.

The Democrats have a different theory in that greedy Wall Street speculators are driving up prices in order to make some quick profits. The Dems also believe that the Obama administration could help lower gas prices by cracking down on this, though even if it were true, most experts believe that global oil markets are too big for any regulators to police.

The absolute last option would be for Obama to dip into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This was done back in 1991 during the first Iraq war, right after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and then again last year by Obama himself during Libya’s civil war. However, this would only be a temporary relief.

This definitely looks very bad for Obama and his administration, especially considering the fact that in both the CBS and New York Times poll and the ABC and Washington Post poll Obama saw drastic decreases in his overall approval rating. The silver lining is, for Obama at least, that oil/gas prices on their own don’t do much in determining a presidential election, according to the New York Times’ stat specialist Nate Silver.

However, rising gas prices would definitely hurt our economic recovery by giving Americans less money in their pockets. As a result, consumer spending would decrease and the economy would get worse, something everybody, Democrats and Republicans alike, would most definitely blame Obama for.

Source: Yahoo! – High gas prices: How much can Obama (or Gingrich) do?

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