Obama pushes to rein in oil speculators

Updated
 

It’s probably unrealistic to think Congress will leap into action, but President Obama is making the push anyway for lawmakers to crack down on oil market speculators – the very folks the administration argues are responsible for driving up prices at the pump.

“I call on Congress to pass a package of measures to crack down on illegal activity and hold accountable those who manipulate the market for private gain at the expense of millions of working families,” Obama said. In terms of specifics, the president called for investing in “more cops on the beat to monitor activity in energy markets,” increasing civil and criminal penalties, and giving those agencies responsible for overseeing oil markets “new authority to protect against volatility and excess speculation by making sure that traders can post appropriate margins, which simply means that they actually have the money to make good on their trades.”

Will Congress actually take any of these steps? It’s extremely unlikely. The White House is clearly invested, however, in demonstrating its commitment to working on the issue, and arguing to the public that the president and his team are taking every possible step.

At the same time, by focusing on speculators, Obama is implicitly making clear who bears the most responsibility for the recent trend (i.e., not him).

Oddly enough, the Romney campaign issued a rather angry response to this – apparently, “more regulation” is bad, even when it involves lower gas prices and cracking down on speculators – which, given Big Oil’s role in financing the Republican campaign, doesn’t really surprise anyone.

Obama pushes to rein in oil speculators

Updated