Amazing: To AP Reporter, Gas Prices Are a Big Problem Because They Hurt Obama's Reelection Chances

The establishment press's lack of interest in associating President Obama with the sharp run-up in energy costs has been thoroughly documented by several folks at the Media Research Center, including but not limited to Julia Seymour when gasoline hit the $3 mark, and more recently Brent Bozell.

Saturday, the Associated Press's Mark S. Smith took the gas-price propaganda to the next level. As anyone would predict, he failed to assign any blame for the energy cost run-up to specific Obama administration policies such as the Gulf drilling moratorium and other barriers to production, and paid relative lip service to the pain it is causing average Americans. To Smith, those are apparently mere trifles.

Smitty's real problem is that those darned gas prices might be hurting Barack Obama's reelection chances (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

Costly gasoline clouds Obama re-election prospects

 

With gas prices climbing and little relief in sight, President Barack Obama is scrambling to get ahead of the latest potential obstacle to his re-election bid, even as Republicans are making plans to exploit the issue.

 

No one seems more aware of the electoral peril than Obama himself.

 

... In fact, Obama raised the issue unsolicited in a series of town meetings in Virginia, California and Nevada that were ostensibly about his deficit-reduction plan. And he made the gas spike the subject of his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday.

 

... As Obama well knows, Americans love their cars and remain heavily dependent on them [1], and they don't hesitate to punish politicians when the cost of filling their tanks goes through the roof. Indeed, for presidents, responding to sudden surges is a recurring frustration.

 

"These gas prices are killing you right now," Obama said at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, acknowledging that many Americans can't afford new fuel-efficient cars and must drive older models. For some, he said, the cost of a fill-up has all but erased the benefit of the payroll tax holiday that he and congressional Republicans agreed on last December.

 

On Saturday, Obama insisted in his radio and Internet address that the best answer is a long-term drive to develop alternatives to fossil fuel. He also renewed calls to end $4 billion in subsidies for oil and gas companies. [2] "Instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy sources," he said, "we need to invest in tomorrow's."

 

... Legislative aides report House Republicans are considering a series of hearings and floor votes on measures to boost domestic oil and gas production when Congress returns from its Easter break.

 

... The president is among those who've said the surging price for crude is caused by worries about political upheaval in the Arab world and increasing demand from China and elsewhere. [3]

 

Still, Americans have a tradition of holding the party in power responsible for rising gas costs. [4]

Notes:

  • [1] -- So Smitty characterizes American drivers as "dependents." I would prefer to say that Americans "rely" on our vehicles, and that we expect our government to let the energy markets work to keep fuel flowing and affordable. This administration is certainly failing to do the latter by refusing to allow exploration and production where it could easily be take place, and in certain cases cheering on countries which are drilling in areas that incredibly are still off-limits to U.S.-based companies. U.S. crude oil production is on track to go down this year and next, according to the Energy Information Administration ("Domestic crude oil production, which increased by 150,000 bbl/d in 2010 to 5.51 million bbl/d, declines by 30,000 bbl/d in 2011 and by a further 120,000 bbl/d in 2012").
  • [2] -- This idea doesn't even amount to rounding error. Even if the entire $4 billion in alleged "subsidies" turned into $4 billion in additional government collections (highly doubtful), the relief would amount to just over $29 per registered passenger vehicle ($4 billion divided by 137 million vehicles as of 2008, the latest info available at the link). The gas price run-up of about $2 a gallon since Obama took office is costing a commuter who uses 2 gallons of gas in his or her commute $20 every week in take-home pay, or $960 in a 48-week year. But even the puny benefits cited won't see their way to consumers' pockets, because Obama has already has plans for using the money, as reported by CNN in February: "The money would be used to pay for things like a $7,500 rebate for buyers of electric cars, investments in renewable energy R&D and tax credits and other incentives to make commercial buildings 20% more energy efficient by 2020."
  • [3] -- Again, this assumes that the administration is powerless to have any policy influence on oil prices, which is far from being the case.
  • [4] -- Darn the American people. Don't they know what's really good for them?

Smith's report is consistent with an outlook I detected September of last year (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), a couple of months before the November 2010 elections, when AP reporters Hope Yen and Liz Sidoti bemoaned the fact that the Census Bureau's poverty report was about to be released. They weren't upset that the report was expected to show that more Americans had slid into poverty and were suffering because administration initiatives such as the so-called "stimulus" and others were failing to improve the employment environment. No-no-no. They were upset because it was "unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections ..."

The AP seems intent on persistently looking at things through the prism of the President's reelection prospects while downplaying the impact of problems he has either caused or made worse. This is not the role of an independent press; it's a disgraceful betrayal of the very idea.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.