The Campaign Spot

Heading Into an Alleged Recovery With an Empty Tank

It is Tuesday, and the first Morning Jolt of the week looks at the tight race in Michigan and Santorum’s “phony theology” comment, but also . . .

A Presidential Campaign Debate Topic with Higher Octane

You know all of that talk you’ve been hearing about economic recovery fueling a big reelection win for Barack Obama? Okay, now picture that scenario with $5-per-gallon gas. Yeah, the whole thing just blew up, huh?

Well, brace yourselves.

Gasoline prices are approaching historical highs for February as oil prices continue to spike amid turmoil in the Middle East.

The average price of gasoline is up nearly 25 cents from the beginning of the year, according to the Automobile Association of America’s (AAA) Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

On Monday, the average price of regular gasoline in the US rose to $3.565, marking an increase of 1.5 percent from the week-ago average price of $3.511 and a whopping 12.5-percent rise from the year-ago average price of $3.168.

Over the last couple of years, the price change from winter to summer has been an increase of about eighty cents to a dollar. So $4.50 nationally? (It’s $4.50 per gallon in plenty of places in New York already.)

NBC News noted Monday night: “The White House seemed to play defense today against Republican presidential candidates criticizing President Obama’s handling of gas prices, which at more than $3.50 per gallon, are the highest they’ve ever been this time of year. The administration pushed several news items Monday that appeared to counter the jabs of hopefuls like Newt Gingrich, who said on Fox News’ Sunday talk show that ‘under the Obama plan, there’s going to be less American production, higher prices. . . . This president is anti-American energy.’ Late Monday morning, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Tweeted a link to a Houston Chronicle story on increased oil production, which the White House press office forwarded to reporters less than an hour later.”

Hmm. It’s wonderful to hear that production is up, but how many consumers will feel good about that if the prices stay high? Ten years ago, when debating the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling, our friends on the left whined that it would take ten years to bring that oil to market. Well, here we are!

. . . The candidates may need to bring this up, because the media that was obsessed with gas prices in summer 2008 suddenly doesn’t seem interested anymore: “Has the mainstream media been giving President Barack Obama a pass when it comes to rising gas prices? Economic reporter Stuart Varney, sitting in for Neil Cavuto on Monday, noticed that major U.S. newspapers carried but a single story about soaring prices at the pump . . . dated March 8, 2011 and running under the headline ‘U.S. Economy is Better Prepared for Rising Gas Costs.’ Compare this, he said, to rising (but still comparatively cheaper) prices under President George W. Bush. When Bush was in the White House, the very same paper, The New York Times, ran an August 17, 2005 story titled ‘Economy Shows Sign of Strain from Oil Prices.’”

Also, here’s a news nugget to launch a thousand conspiracy theories: “The Chicago area, which usually leads the nation’s highest gas prices, is getting a break at the pump. Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for, says Chicago’s apparent discounted gas prices are partly due to local refineries clearing out the winter blend gas to make room for cleaner-burning summer blend. ‘Prices across Chicago continue to buck the national trend and have gone down in the last week,’ said DeHaan. ‘The national average has gone up 5 cents last week and Chicago dropped about 9 cents a gallon last week.’”

The nation pays more for gas . . . while Obama’s hometown is playing less. Maybe his policies are working exactly as intended!

Melissa Clouthier observes, “Irony of elite left wanting $8/gallon gas: it harms the poor and middle class worst. Conclusion: Environmental wackos hate poor people.”

ADDENDA: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” Steven Chu, now our Secretary of Energy, to the Wall Street Journal in September 2008. The average cost of gasoline in Europe [at the time of the statement] is somewhere between $7–9 per gallon.


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