Pain at the pump

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on March 1, 2012

Bill Clinton famously felt your pain. Barack Obama, well, you can have a “free” aspirin.

In testimony before Congress yesterday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who in the past has advocated European gas price levels of $8+ a gallon, confessed that the Obama administration isn’t interested in lowering gas prices. (I paid $4.17 to fill up my tank last week. When I drove by the gas station today it was $4.33.)

High gasoline prices will make research into such alternatives more urgent, Chu said.

“But is the overall goal to get our price” of gasoline down, asked [Rep. Alan] Nunnelee.

“No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu replied. “We think that if you consider all these energy policies, including energy efficiency, we think that we can go a long way to becoming less dependent on oil and [diversifying] our supply and we’ll help the American economy and the American consumers.”

Forward to 2:45 for Chu’s gaffe

Today, Chu backtracked, but he told the truth the first time.

As for our President, there’s a reason he hasn’t released his college transcripts—that big fat “F” in undergraduate economics would be a talking point. From his speech in Nashua, N.H.:

So we’re focused on American oil production.  We are doing all that we can in a safe, responsible way to make sure that American oil production and gas production is high.  But here’s the thing.  The amount of oil that we drill at home doesn’t set the price of gas on its own.  And the reason is, is because oil is bought and sold on the world energy market.  And just like last year, the biggest thing that’s causing the price of oil to rise right now is instability in the Middle East.  This time it's Iran.  But a lot of folks are nervous about what might happen there, and so they're anticipating there might be a big disruption in terms of flow.  And when uncertainty increases, speculation on Wall Street can drive up prices even more.  Those are the short-term factors at work here.

So when you start hearing a bunch of folks saying somehow that there's some simple solution, you can turn a nozzle and suddenly we're going to be getting a lot more oil, that’s not just how it works.  Over the long term, the biggest reason oil prices will rise is because of growing demand in countries like China and India and Brazil.

Just think about this.  In five years, the number of cars on the road in China more than tripled.  Over the last five years, the number of cars tripled.  Nearly 10 million cars were added in China alone in 2010 -- 10 million cars just in one country in one year.  So that’s using up a lot of oil.  And those numbers are only going to get bigger over time.  As places like China and India get wealthier, they're going to want to buy cars like we do, and they're going to want to fill them up like we do, and that’s going to drive up demand.

So what does this mean for us?  What does this mean for America?  It means that anybody who tells you that we can just drill our way out of this problem does not know what they’re talking about or they're not telling you the truth.  (Applause.) One or the other.

Read that carefully. Obama says that gas prices are going up because of an increase in demand while at the same time arguing that increasing supply can’t address the problem.

He promised to stop the seas from rising—and now he’s managed to repeal the law of supply and demand.


Actually, no serious person is sure what the conservative majority will do here. That's common in these politically charged cases. Meanwhile, literally nobody doubts what the *Democrat-appointed* justices will do. So who is "deeply partisan" again?

Doing some research and checked out @TheDispatchFC front page. It turns out the answer to every single one of these is "No." But one doesn't have that simple explanation on the main page. Why?

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March 2012



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