President Barack Obama deflected blame for high gas prices yesterday, by blaming American consumers for their automobile choices. According to the AP, at an event at a wind turbine plant, “Obama needled one questioner who asked about gas prices.” Obama laughingly said: “If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting 8 miles a gallon, you know…you might want to think about a trade-in.” (The AP later scrubbed this quote from its stories)
For most Americans, however, high gas prices are no laughing matter. And for the president to suggest that a taxpayer’s inability to buy a new $40,000+ hybrid vehicle (that still requires gas) is the root problem, rather than his price-increasing oil policies is shameful.
Later in the evening, at an event hosted by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Obama quickly tried to dispel the notion he is “out of touch” by saying: “I remember what it was like pumping gas. [Obama laughs] I remember.” So do we, Mr. President.
Before President Obama took office, his personal vehicle of choice was a Chrysler 300C sporting a V8 engine averaging 17 miles-per-gallon in the city. The president’s campaign vehicle was a GMC Yukon, which was “flex-fuel” averaging…17 mpg. So it appears the president’s personal fuel standard is 17 mpg. But of course, this is a ‘do as we say, not as we do’ activist administration. You must live by a different set of rules.
The president knows his anti-drilling policies and costly regulations are contributing to high gas prices. Normally, we may expect him to deflect this onto his political opponents, or perhaps ‘evil’ corporate interests, but we must admit; blaming American consumers is at least…unique.
Of course, this isn’t your fault. Unless you are driving a Bugatti Veyron, your car gets more than 8 mpg. And unless you are as financially solvent as the president, you are making your vehicle choice based on a number of practical factors including price, size and conditional need (commute, weather, job, etc.).
This is the case with the gentleman who the president mocked in his event yesterday, who has ten kids and needs a large vehicle. (The president suggested he buy a hybrid van. Of course, the gentleman would need to fly to Japan to do so.)
The problem is not you, or your inability to buy the expensive vehicle the president thinks you ought to buy. It’s the White House’s willful ignorance of markets.
When consumers take gas mileage into account, they still make smart personal spending decisions. They buy from manufacturers like Ford and Hyundai who are building “super fuel economy” vehicles that run on traditional engines but get upwards of 50 mpg due to other innovations (without government subsidies). Importantly, these vehicles have market-friendly prices. Meanwhile, they avoid expensive vehicles that promise high mileage and tax credits, but fail to offer a return on that investment.
A recent Heritage study showed electric-car owners will not save enough by avoiding the gas pump, and receiving generous government tax credits, to make up for the high sticker price for their car. And this situation will only get worse if President Obama forces Americans to buy more expensive electricity in the form of solar and wind production.
Yesterday, President Obama said on gas prices: “”I’m just going to be honest with you. There’s not much we can do next week or two weeks from now.” Yes, there is.
First, the president can stop trying to turn the Department of Energy into the Department of Automobile Manufacturing. He can turn his focus away from lecturing car owners and towards expanding our domestic energy supply. President Obama has paid lip service to this idea lately, but actions speak louder than words. Costly regulations on refiners can be eliminated tomorrow, the same way they were enacted, unilaterally by the president.
Drilling permits can not only be processed, but explorative growth can be encouraged. Rather than cheering on Brazil’s offshore production, the president can choose to cheer our own domestic industry that supports domestic jobs and creates economic growth. And the president can immediately stop equating windmills to oil rigs, since wind produces electricity, and oil isn’t used for electricity generation. It only takes seconds to stop offering false choices.
Gas prices continue to skyrocket. Global unrest will continue to pressure the markets as well. The president can immediately reverse an administration agenda that encourages high gas prices in order to control consumer behavior. Or as Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in 2008: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” President Obama’s administration simply does not feel your pain at the pump.
So as you drive into work today, please remember, the president is wrong: It’s not your fault.