Let Freedom Ring: “Gas Price Hypocrisy”

An ad from Let Freedom Ring accuses President Obama of “gas price hypocrisy,” suggesting that a clip of Obama speaking on the campaign trail in 2008 contradicts remarks he made in March 2012. In both speeches, however, Obama espoused the same position: that there is no “silver bullet” for an immediate reduction in gas prices, and that instead we must develop alternate energy sources in order to end America’s dependence on foreign oil. Even so, under President Obama, domestic oil production and exports are up, but since oil is traded on a global market, increased domestic drilling doesn’t have much of an impact on gas prices.

In Both Speeches, Obama Promised To Develop Green Energy, Not Deliver Cheap Gas

Candidate Obama Proposed Relieving Burden Of Rising Gas Prices By Developing Alternate Energy Sources, Not By Waving Magic Wand. In the 2008 speech excerpted by the Let Freedom Ring ad, then-candidate Obama said: “[T]he truth is, there is no easy answer to our energy crisis – and we need a President who’s going to be straight with us about that; a president who’s going to tell the American people not just what they want to hear, but what they need to know. And what they need to know is that any real solution isn’t going to come about overnight. It’s going to take time. To bring about real change, we’re going to have to make long-term investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. […] And as the president, I will work to solve this energy crisis once and for all. We’ll invest $150 billion over the next ten years in establishing a green energy sector that will create up to 5 million new jobs – and those are jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. We’ll invest in clean energies like solar, wind, and biodiesel. And we’ll help make sure that the fuel we’re using is more efficient. […] In the end, we’ll only ease the burden of gas prices on our families when Hoosiers and people all across America say ‘enough.’ It’s time to free ourselves from the tyranny of oil, and stop funding both sides in the war on terror. […] It won’t happen tomorrow. But if we can come together in this election, we can and will begin, and the first step is changing the way business is done in Washington.” [Candidate Obama Remarks via Presidency.UCSB.edu, 4/25/08]

President Obama Affirmed Support For An Energy Strategy That Includes Alternate Energy. In the 2012 remarks excerpted by Let Freedom Ring, President Obama stated: “If it feels like we’ve seen this movie before, that’s because we have. Gas prices went up around this time last year. They shot up in the spring and summer of 2008. This has been happening for years. And every time prices start to go up — especially in an election year — politicians dust off their three-point plans for $2 gasoline. They head down to the pump, make sure a few cameras are following them, and start acting like they can wave a magic wand and you’ll have cheap gas forever. Sound familiar? Well here’s the thing: we know better. You know better. There’s no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to high gas prices. We know there’s no silver bullet. And anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t really looking for a solution — they’re probably just looking to ride the political wave of the moment. […] We can’t allow ourselves to be held hostage to events on the other side of the world. That’s not who we are. In this country, we control our own destiny. We chart our own course. An energy strategy for the last century is one that traps us in the past. What we need now is an all-of-the-above strategy for the 21st century that develops every source of American-made energy — not just oil and gas, but wind power and solar power; biofuels and fuel-efficient cars and trucks that get more miles to the gallon.” [President Obama Remarks via WashingtonPost.com, 3/15/12]

Domestic Policy Has Little Impact On Gas Prices

Gas Prices Are Determined By Global Markets. From the Wall Street Journal: “U.S. gasoline prices, like prices throughout the advanced economies, are determined by global market forces. It is hard to see how Mr. Obama’s policies can be blamed. […] When Mr. Obama was inaugurated, demand was weak due to the recession. But now it’s stronger, and thus the price is higher. What’s more, producing a lot of oil doesn’t lower the price of gasoline in your country. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Germans over the past three years have paid an average of $2.64 a gallon (excluding taxes), while Americans paid $2.69, even though the U.S. produced 5.4 million barrels of oil per day while Germany produced just 28,000.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/10/12]

Energy Information Administration Head: “Globally Integrated Nature Of The World Oil Market” And Influence Of OPEC Means That Domestic Oil Drilling “Not Have A Large Impact On Prices.” At a hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Richard Newell, Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, testified: “Long term, we do not project additional volumes of oil that could flow from greater access to oil resources on Federal lands to have a large impact on prices given the globally integrated nature of the world oil market and the more significant long-term compared to short-term responsiveness of oil demand and supply to price movements. Given the increasing importance of OPEC supply in the global oil supply-demand balance, another key issue is how OPEC production would respond to any increase in non-OPEC supply, potentially offsetting any direct price effect.” [EIA.gov, 3/17/11]

Gas Price Expert: Speculators Are Driving Current Rise In Gas Prices. From Businessweek: “Strangely, the current run-up in prices comes despite sinking demand in the U.S. ‘Petrol demand is as low as it’s been since April 1997,’ says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. ‘People are properly puzzled by the fact that we’re using less gas than we have in years, yet we’re paying more.’ Kloza believes much of the increase is due to speculative money that’s flowed into gasoline futures contracts since the beginning of the year, mostly from hedge funds and large money managers. ‘We’ve seen about $11 billion of speculative money come in on the long side of gas futures,’ he says. ‘Each of the last three weeks we’ve seen a record net long position being taken.’” [Businessweek, 2/14/12]

GOP Economist Holtz-Eakin In 2011: Rising Gas Prices Were “Inevitable” Component Of Recovery From “Massive Global Recession.” On CNN’s State of the Union in March 2011, Republican economist and former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said: “I think there are three lessons on the oil and gas front. Lesson number one is we have oil at $140 a barrel in 2008. And it went down not because we somehow discovered a lot more oil. No, it went down because we went into a massive global recession. As economies recovered, it was inevitable that prices were going to rise. And this was utterly foreseeable. Second piece is that Libya’s not really the concern. That’s not what markets are pricing. It’s the broader Middle East. Libya is 2% of oil supplies. That’s not our problem. It’s what happens in the rest of the Middle East. And the third is, something like this is always going to happen. There is always some piece of bad news out there. So, the key should be to build an economy that’s growing more robustly, it’s more resilient to bad news that inevitably will happen.” [State of the Union3/27/11]

Oil Production And Exports Have Increased Under President Obama

U.S. Crude Oil Production Is At Its Highest In A Decade. According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. field production of crude oil in May 2012 (the latest data available) was 194,227,000 barrels, and it has been over 180 million barrels per month in every month since October 2011. Prior to October 2011, the last time monthly oil production was over 180 million barrels was in March 2003. [EIA.gov, 7/30/12]

Domestic Liquid Fuel Production Is Higher Than At Any Point During The Bush Administration. The following New York Times graphic illustrates the amount of crude oil and other liquid fuels produced during the Bush administration and the Obama administration, in millions of barrels per day:


[New York Times, 3/17/12]

Under Obama, Oil Exports Are At Their Highest Ever. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 110,028,000 barrels of oil were exported from the U.S. in December 2011, the highest number the EIA has in its records. Exports in May 2012, the latest data available, remained higher than at any point prior to the start of the Obama administration at 98,999,000 barrels. The following graph from the EIA depicts the monthly exports of U.S. exports of crude oil and petroleum products since 1981:


[EIA.gov, 7/30/12]

[OBAMA CLIP:] “Politicians dust off their three-point plan for $2 gas. They head down to the gas station, they make sure the cameras are following them, and then they act like we’ve got a magic wand and we will give you cheap gas forever if you just elect us.” [MAN:] But four years ago, candidate Obama was at a gas station with cameras, promising: [OBAMA CLIP:] “And as the president, I will work to solve this energy crisis once and for all.” [WOMAN:] So you play politics with the issues too? I’m just tired of the rhetoric and want results. America has more energy than any country, and if we develop it responsibly, energy prices would be lower. Why aren’t you opening up more drilling? Why Mr. President? Why? [Let Freedom Ring, 6/4/12]