Obama Takes Offense on Gas Prices as Political Issue

Deflecting an already rising tide of criticism over gas prices, President Obama warned the nation that there are “no short-term silver bullets” to solve the problem.
But the President also said his administration is considering all options and areas in which the government can make an impact on oil markets.
Surging gas prices for consumers and businesses has the potential of slowing the economic recovery.
In his weekly radio and Internet address this weekend, Obama emphasized that the U.S. dependence on foreign oil was under 50 percent in 2010 for the first time in more than a decade.
“And while there are no short-term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices, I’ve directed my administration to look for every single area where we can make an impact and help consumers in the months ahead, from permitting to delivery bottlenecks to what’s going on in the oil markets,” Obama said.
Gasoline prices reached a nationwide average of $3.65 a gallon in the week ending Feb. 20, government data show. Prices are at or close to $4-a-gallon in some parts of the nation, including California.  Some forecasts see a national average much closer to $4 by spring.
Oil prices are largely set in a global supply-and-demand market, where futures speculators and industry-hedging interests consider looming events in the Middle East, including threats from Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to oil tankers, a retaliation for sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western nations.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Friday suggested on CNBC that there might be a case for tapping into the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve “in some circumstances and we will continue to look at those and evaluate that carefully.”
Geithner also said the U.S. was trying to diminish the risk of Iran disrupting the oil markets. U.S. officials are trying to “make sure there are alternative sources of supply from Saudi Arabia and others to help compensate for reduced exports from Iran.”
Obama took swipes at political opponents for “dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas” during an election year, primarily by promoting expanded drilling.
“Well the American people aren’t stupid,” Obama said. “You know that’s not a plan – especially since we’re already drilling.  It’s a bumper sticker.  It’s not a strategy to solve our energy challenge.”
While GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney acknowledges that oil prices are largely a factor of supply/demand and world events, he does support expanded drilling.
Romney has pledged to “finally get our oil and our gas out of the ground” by opening up already-approved lands to drillers who are already licensed. Romney also said he would approve the Keystone Pipeline to bring in oil from Canada.

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