Today, a Washington Times editorial complained about President Obama's "persistent moves to choke off fossil-fuel production" in the latest of many attempts by the paper and its op-ed columnists to falsely blame the administration for rising gas prices. But experts say that market factors, not U.S. energy policy, are responsible for gas price volatility.
Earlier this year, conservative media outlets seized on rising gas prices to attack President Obama, with one Fox host predicting that high gas prices could "derail" Obama's re-election. But when prices plummeted a few months later, those same pundits tied themselves into knots trying to argue that while Obama is to blame for high gas prices, he does not deserve credit for the price drop, and that falling prices may even be a bad thing.
The Washington Times employed the same faulty logic in today's editorial, claiming that Obama got "lucky" when prices fell, but now that prices are rising he "has no one to blame but himself":
Don't look now, but gas prices are beginning to bite hard again. That's bad news for President Obama, who, until now, might have thought he had gotten lucky when prices dropped earlier in this critical election year. As the energy issue makes the campaign trail bumpier, Mr. Obama has no one to blame but himself.
In fact, energy experts say that blaming Obama for rising gas prices is "not credible," and analysts have found "[n]o statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump." Even Fox News acknowledged during the Bush administration that "no president has the power to increase or to lower gas prices."
Today's editorial itself noted a host of factors contributing to the current price spike, including "fears of conflict with Iran, summer-driving-season increases, a better-than-expected July jobs report that boosted oil futures and, most recently, a California refinery fire that could reduce West Coast gas supplies by nearly 10 percent." But none of those prevented the Times from pivoting to Obama's alleged attempts to "choke off fossil-fuel production":
Underlying the immediate reasons for repeated price spikes over the course of Mr. Obama's 3 1/2 years in office are his persistent moves to choke off fossil-fuel production while claiming to do the opposite. The president's purported "all of the above" energy policy doesn't apply to bountiful resources below ground.
It's not bad luck that has caused gas prices to soar from $1.95 when Mr. Obama took office but the result of deliberate efforts by his left-wing administration to drive up pump costs to make greenie energy sources appear affordable by comparison.
Aside from the Times' mistaken impression that expanding drilling will lower gas prices, its suggestion that President Obama is standing in the way of domestic oil production is simply not in line with the facts. The Energy Information Administration's 2012 Annual Energy Outlook stated, "Domestic crude oil production has increased over the past few years, reversing a decline that began in 1986." And as the Columbia Journalism Review noted in March, federal lands have produced a greater share of national oil output during the Obama years than during the Bush years.
Analysts agree that the long-term solution to high gas prices is not increasing oil production, but reducing our demand. As economist Severin Borenstein put it, "To fix the problem, we just need to use less oil." Rather than assigning blame for high prices at the pump, the media should be talking about how we can make ourselves less vulnerable to these inevitable price spikes.