National Public Radio led its Morning Edition broadcast this morning with a story about rising gas prices that could have been written by the White House press office. Its basic message was as follows:
- President Barack Obama feels your pain. Really.
- Politicians like President Obama can’t do anything about short-term gas prices.
- We’re producing more domestic oil under Obama–and investing in “domestic energy.”
- Republicans are making a big deal out of gas prices for political reasons.
Each of these could be true–and each of them is irrelevant to the question of whether President Obama is to blame for the long-term rise in fuel prices during his administration.
The key fact that NPR leaves out is that Obama specifically campaigned on a promise to raise gas prices in 2008 (see video below), and that his administration has done everything possible to raise the cost of fuel over time–from pushing cap-and-trade legislation, to regulating carbon dioxide, to foot-dragging on offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. (Update: And let’s not forget the Keystone pipeline, which might not raise global prices but would certainly help domestic production and supply.)
The fact is that though both parties routinely seize on high gas prices to attack each other, there is a clear difference between Republicans and Democrats on the issue. Democrats and the left tend to think that higher gas prices are a good thing, because they discourage fuel consumption and make alternative fuels more competitive; Republicans and conservatives believe that cheap energy is good for economic growth, and want to expand domestic fuel production for national security reasons as well.
The fact that Republican candidates are using the issue to attack Obama is not just political opportunism but a clear statement of philosophical differences–and a legitimate attack on Obama’s dismal energy record, which NPR seems determined to hide from its audience.