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Jewish World Review
Feb 24, 2012/ 1 Adar, 5772
Obama goes gaseous on gas
To win the debate over gas prices shooting skyward, President Barack Obama must pretend markets do not work the way they do.
He must say he disagrees with his secretary of energy while denying policies curtailing an oil boom. And he must insist he never said commoners with vehicles that guzzle should instead buy sophisticated models that sip.
In fact, he didn't put it quite that way, but it is justified for some commentators to have compared his words to "let them eat cake" after he blurted in April of last year, "If you're complaining about the price of gas and you're only getting eight miles a gallon, you know, you might want to think about a trade-in."
What you actually might want is to trade in a president who thinks everyone can afford that, or, even worse, who calls for kick-fanny tax hikes on roundly excoriated oil companies.
Tax reform is needed, with some deductions eliminated and corporate rates reduced for one and all as our president has recommended, if somewhat timidly and obscurely. But if you decrease oil profits right now, you lessen exploration, diminish America's competitive power and, according to the Congressional Research Service, drive up consumer prices even more.
Wait, some say, eyes ablaze: Oil company profits are outrageously exploitative, an example of villains tying damsels to the railroad track and cheering as the train comes round the bend. Wrong. Relative to the return on the dollar, the profits are so-so and sorely needed to offset the years the oil companies just barely got by.
For many, that information is counterintuitive, which makes it easy to score demagogic points if you are so inclined.
Obama is so inclined.
Those high oil prices are a political liability, after all. And while it's true that improved world economies are increasing demand for tightened supplies, something else is true, too.
As astute observers have noted, the administration would bless those high prices if they generated no angst. The energy secretary, Stephen Chu, has gone on record as liking high oil prices because they facilitate the development of alternative energies, and there are still others in the administration making it clear they will happily denude wallets by not drilling, baby, not drilling.
Obama has said increased oil exploration in the country will not make much of a difference because we have so little of the world's reserves and consume so much of its energy, adding that the production of more oil takes forever to budge prices any. He then tells you we're developing a lot more oil than before. To the extent that we are, it is not because of him.
Oil companies keep finding more reserves accessible through the technology of horizontal drilling, also known as fracking, but waiting for bureaucrats to grant permits is like waiting for an ice age to recede, observers report. The administration has bans on all kinds of onshore and offshore drilling, and you wonder what the EPA will try next in its assault on the oil industry -- have snipers shoot holes in pipelines?
The answer to Obama's tactics is that going all out to produce this oil can provide jobs, empower the economy, make us dramatically less dependent on the Middle East and, yes, help on prices as time passes.
Obama is mainly for increased fuel efficiency and turning more to alternatives to cut down our demand for oil, but this path takes much longer to produce results, and some of the efforts are counterproductive, anti-market, economy-damaging stupidities.
My guess is that Joe the Carpenter needs his pickup a lot more than a heavily subsidized Chevy Volt that still costs $40,000 and can't haul lumber. I bet he gets it that oil will play a major role in vehicular mobility for a long time, and I suspect he is thinking of voting Republican.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
• 02/22/12: Political tears for trust in personal empowerment --- except in the bedroom
• 02/17/12: Of cut-off ears and silenced mouths
• 02/15/12: Obama is a joke whose antics aren't funny
• 02/10/12: An energy boom looms, despite Obama
• 02/08/12: Obama's assault on faith
• 02/03/12: Can Romney get serious?
• 01/27/12: Obama is like an Italian ship captain
• 01/25/12: Newt Gingrich's first 100 days
• 01/20/12: Obama's Keystone pipeline lies
• 01/18/12: Critics worse than urinating Marines
• 01/13/12: Ron Paul is a cartoonish character
• 01/11/12: Newt Gingrich upset by Mitt Romney's brilliance
• 01/09/12: How about regulating presidents, too?
• 01/04/12: How America smothers itself
• 12/30/11: A tax break that helps break the nation
• 12/28/11: Watch out for the banana peel, Newt
• 12/21/11: A tale of two men
• 12/16/11: Strange happenings in Russia
• 12/14/11: Tim Tebow is a man of character
• 12/09/11: A populist, envy-mongering fraud divisively exacerbating resentment among different groups of Americans
• 12/07/11: Tax games threaten nation
• 12/05/11: Why Wal-Mart serves us better than Barney Frank
• 11/30/11: Not writing off Newt
• 11/28/11: Answers to the Iranian threat
• 11/23/11: Failure of the incumbency investment
• 11/18/11: Occupiers: Chop off their heads!
• 11/16/11: Obama asks jobless to sacrifice
• 11/09/11: Michael Moore's insufferable occupation
• 11/04/11: Political tipping point is coming
• 11/02/11: Idealogues versus 7 billion
• 10/28/11: Obama games on student loans
• 10/26/11: Wit and quick moves v. humanity and thoroughgoing honesty? It's no contest - or at least shouldn't be
• 10/07/11: Baptists, bootleggers and Wall Street protesters
• 10/05/11: Federal law will get you even if you watch out
• 09/28/11: Leftist bugbears on the march
• 09/23/11: Still hope for coal to help us
• 09/21/11: Obama's Madoff ploy
• 09/19/11: U.S. can't afford to wait until it happens
• 09/14/11: Defending -- and strengthening -- gung ho collectivism
• 09/12/11: A pipeline to better times
• 09/08/11: Obama just keeps destroying jobs
• 09/06/11: Ultra-feminists thwarting justice
• 08/31/11: Corporations are people? Yes, Count the ways
• 08/26/11: What an earthquake tells us about debt
• 08/25/11: The tyranny of scientific consensus
• 08/23/11: Fracking hardly a public health threat
• 08/17/11: Why Obamacare won't control births
• 08/15/11: Balanced budget amendment unbalanced idea
• 08/10/11: Kerry's war on citizen speech
• 08/05/11: Upside to the compromise leaving the door open for obnoxious maneuvers
• 08/03/11: The people who may save America
• 07/29/11: On making deals, Obama is no LBJ
• 07/27/11: The threat behind the debt
• 07/23/11: Mean opposition to means-testing
• 07/20/11: Leftist babble makes debt crisis even worse
• 07/18/11: Time to raise demagoguery ceiling
• 07/13/11: Obama treating treaties badly
• 07/08/11: Is decline of U.S. exaggerated?
• 07/05/11: Not math deficiency, but demagoguery
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