It was just a couple of years ago that Republicans positioned gas prices one of the nation’s most important political issues. Mitt Romney, during his failed presidential bid, argued President Obama “gets full credit or blame for what’s happened in this economy, and what’s happened to gasoline prices under his watch.”
The argument was always a little silly. Gas prices were extremely low when Obama first took office in early 2009 because there was a global economic crisis underway, weakening demand and pushing prices at the pump much lower. Consumers were paying more in 2012 than 2009, but that was because the economy had recovered.
But if Romney was correct, and the president deserves “full credit” for the price of gas, Republicans must be awfully impressed with Obama right now.
The average cost of filling up at the gas pump will soon be less than $3 a gallon across the U.S., according to projections from AAA on Friday.The auto group said that the average price of gas may drop below $3 “sometime in the next couple of weeks” for the first time in four years.About half of all U.S. gas stations are now selling gasoline for less than $3 per gallon. The most common price is $2.99 per gallon, AAA said.
This is easily a three-year low for gas prices, largely the result of weaker foreign demand.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not arguing that Obama deserves the credit for lower prices. He doesn’t. I’m arguing that it was lazy dumb for Republicans to argue that Obama deserved the blame for higher prices, and the right shouldn’t try to have it both ways.
Indeed, let’s not forget that Republicans actually spent a fair amount of time in the president’s first term arguing that Obama was deliberately trying to raise the price at the pump as part of a specific environmental agenda.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), during his vice presidential run, said in September 2012, “[T]he Obama administration’s policies are they’ve gone to great lengths to make oil and gas more expensive.”
In 2011, with gas prices rising, Republicans again insisted Obama was doing this on purpose. This odd line was pushed by Haley Barbour and the Koch brothers’ AFP, among others. When prices dropped, the argument went away. Then prices rose again, and the theory made a comeback, with prominent Republicans like Newt Gingrich, former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and assorted Fox News figures insisting higher gas prices are the “conscious policy of this administration.”
By this reasoning, do Republicans believe Obama is still trying to raise gas prices, and just failing miserably in his goal?