Letter: Lay blame for gas prices at proper feet
That gas prices are edging ever closer to $4 per gallon is bad enough. Even worse is the fact that the public blames the wrong villains. The average price for regular gasoline earlier this month hit $3.94 per gallon, according to the DOE - up 11 cents in three weeks, more than $2 per gallon since President Obama took office.
So who gets the blame? Obama, for cutting oil production on federal lands and killing the Keystone XL pipeline, for berating the industry and dismissing oil as "yesterday's fuel"? Nope, almost half of Americans in the latest polls blame oil companies and Wall Street speculators, two players that have nothing to do with it.
But the FTC and the GAO have repeatedly investigated the oil industry for collusion or price gouging. Each time they've found the same thing: The industry is highly competitive. upply and demand, not collusion, set the price. It's the same with speculators.
Obama continues to bemoan the industry's alleged ill-gotten gains, demand an end to their "tax subsidies" and suggest that somehow speculators are behind high prices too. Yet, instead of correcting the public's misperceptions about why oil prices are high, media watchdogs have been more interested in parroting Obama's talking points. He's greatly boosted production, they say, and it's had no effect on prices.
That's not true, either. Domestic production has risen only modestly in the past three years, and that's from all-time lows. Production still is down more than 40 percent below the peak set in the '70s, and all the gains came despite Obama's efforts. It's also not true Obama is powerless to affect prices. If he tapped into the nation's vast supplies of oil - enough to last 200 years without imports - the market would respond by lowering prices.
When President Bush said he would lift the embargo on offshore drilling, oil prices immediately fell by $9 per barrel. Obama could do the same.
To be sure, Obama isn't entirely to blame for high prices - they're also the result of decades of federal mismanagement that have kept huge supplies of oil off limits.