Obama Hopes Gas-Price Task Force Will Appease America

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Gas prices — which have risen 30 cents in the past month and a dollar over the past year, and could reach up to $6.50 a gallon this year under the right conditions, according to some predictions — are killing President Obama, and not because his motorcade is 85 cars long. When gas prices go up, voters get unhappy, and when voters are unhappy, they blame the president, even if he has pretty much no control over the economic forces that dictate the cost of refueling your car. Now Obama’s poll numbers are falling, and many believe there’s a direct correlation to gas prices. That would hardly be a new development in American politics. As the National Journal recounts:


Obama himself yesterday blamed his sagging ratings on the soaring price of gas.

So, not wanting to appear as powerless as he actually is, Obama has decided to do something, even if that something is forming a task force (“a task force? We’re saved!” says nobody):

We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain,” Obama said at a town-hall style meeting at a renewable energy plant in Reno, Nev. ….

While speculators do play a role in the rising price of oil, and are particularly attractive scapegoats in these times of Wall Street antagonism, there’s no evidence that anything illegal is actually going on:

An analyst concurs:

Adam Sieminski, chief energy economist at Deutsche Bank AG (DB) in Washington, said the Obama administration’s announcement “seems like a political action.”

In other words, gas prices will keep going up. Expect Donald Trump to increasingly focus less on birtherism and more on his totally vague but appealing promise to somehow demand that OPEC lower the price of oil. We’ll know Obama is really getting desperate if he suddenly decides that a gas tax holiday isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Obama says new task force will examine gas prices [MSNBC]
U.S. Team to Study Whether ‘Speculators’ Driving Up Pump Prices [Bloomberg]
Gas Prices Pose Problems for Obama [National Journal]
Stepping On The Gas: Obama Worries That Rising Prices At The Pump Are Sinking His Poll Number [Note/ABC News]