Republican Predictions on Gas Prices

Now that gas prices are below $2 a gallon and Democrats have suddenly decided that the president has a huge influence on those prices, while Republicans suddenly deny that they do (and vice versa, when a Republican is in office), it can be fun to look back on previous predictions from Republicans in this regard. Like this from Sen. Mike Lee in 2012:

Republicans hit the accelerator on Wednesday with their charges that President Barack Obama is to blame for high gas prices, with one senator making the extreme claim that the president’s reelection will push costs to $6.60 a gallon.

“When President Obama took office, gas prices were about $1.85 per gallon,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “Now that they’re up to about $3.75 per gallon, we can see a steady increase. Over this 38-month period of time of his presidency so far, gasoline prices have risen on … average of about 5 cents per gallon per month.”

“This is staggering when you think about the fact that if he’s reelected,” Lee said, “it’s a total of an additional 58 months. With that increase, gas prices will be up at around $6.60 per gallon.”

Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich said Obama would push gas prices to $10 a gallon, while he would drop them to $2.50 a gallon with his policies magic spells:

Flanked by $2.50 gas price campaign signs, Newt Gingrich on Saturday laid out his vision for energy production in America and picked apart the speech President Barack Obama gave on the subject earlier this week.

“We have more than enough energy in the United States that we do not have to rely on foreign countries, but we have an anti-American energy government, an anti-American energy bureaucracy, anti-American energy regulations,” Gingrich told the 500-person crowd at the California Republican Party Convention’s luncheon…

“If you would like to have a national American energy policy, never again bow to a Saudi king and pay $2.50 a gallon, Newt Gingrich will be your candidate,” he said to cheers. “If you want $10 a gallon gasoline, an anti-energy secretary, and in weakness requiring us to depend on foreigners for our energy, Barack Obama should be your candidate.”

The president has very little to do with the price of oil or gas, of course, especially in the short term. But Americans being the mostly simpleminded creatures that we are and so susceptible to slogans rather than actual coherent thought, we almost automatically give credit or blame to the person in the White House. And then laugh when our political enemies do the same thing.

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  • a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Thankfully for Lee and Gingrich, the average US voter has the attention span of a drunken fruit fly.

  • dingojack

    dilbert – hey! That’s just plain insulting to D melanogaster alcoholics…


  • dingojack

    I absolutely insist you retract that slur, totally unfairly comparing ‘right-wing’ humans to innocent alcoholic Fruit Flies.


  • eric

    We have more than enough energy in the United States that we do not have to rely on foreign countries

    I have never really understood why this is considered a ‘conservative’ policy. Putting on my Machiavelli hat, I would think that the realpolitik thing to do would be to burn everyone else’s oil first, and keep ours for when the world starts to run out. Burning ours first seems practically hippy-dippy liberal to me. What’s next; is the GOP going to oppose stripmining other countries for their resources?

  • Area Man

    Gingrich’s comment is of course pure nonsense. Even after a “historic” rise in output caused by many billions in investment, we still must import half of our oil, and the new tight oil supplies equal only about 5% of global output, so it’s not even (primarily) responsible for lower prices. There is a sense in which using other people’s oil is bad, and this is that they could choose to stop selling it and cause acute shortages (it’s happened before). But this remains true no matter how much we increase domestic output; only lowering demand or increasing elasticity can protect us from supply shocks. Conservatives naturally oppose both.

    More drilling is a conservative policy because it helps the rich owners of oil companies make more money, regardless of what detrimental impact it might have on the rest of us. Supply shocks are kept in check through a multi-trillion dollar foreign policy — paid for with public dollars — aimed at making sure that oil-rich countries don’t embargo us again. Socialize the costs and privatize the profits is the conservative way.

  • Michael Heath

    President Obama’s polices has an impact on oil prices. The dollar is strong. His domestic energy policy has increased the supply of U.S.-mined oil. Russia continues to increase the supply of oil partly due to President Obama’s polices that have hurt the Russian economy. The U.S. is becoming more energy efficient even in a growing U.S. economy, which didn’t crash given Obama’s stimulus policies in 2009. [Iraq also continues to increase its supply of oil though where I’m unsure how President Obama’s impacted Iraq’s performance in this regard.]

    There are other factors of course, some that are arguably* more influential then my list above e.g., OPEC policy; I’m merely pointing that President Obama has influenced both supply and demand.

    In the 2009 the crash in prices was partly due to President Bush’s economic policies that turned the business down-cycle into a major recession, thereby reducing demand and creating a loss of confidence in Jan-2009.

    Liberals are supposed to be able to do nuance and look to facts and experts rather than trite narratives, even the, “I’m so above partisan rhetoric” pose. Admittedly it’s difficult identifying and measuring causal factors for events like a big change in oil prices; but that difficulty shouldn’t cause us to ignore what experts argue are the underlying factors and their estimated impact.

    * While it’s obvious that non-Obama influenced OPEC policy is a major short-term causal factor in the current drop in oil prices, I think we shouldn’t forget that the current state of the global economy would be far worse if a President McCain and Republicans in Congress were able to implement the contractionary policies they favored at the start of the financial crisis. That would have led to a global meltdown with difficult to determine though certainly grave consequences. These underlying factors are soon forgotten though they shouldn’t be.

  • Alverant

    The problem is that W Bush and Cheney had direct ties to the oil industry and vise versa. It would be hard to completely dismiss a form of price fixing during his administration. (Remember when Cheney said the energy leaders didn’t have to swear an oath to tell the truth when testifying before Congress?) The President Obama has no such ties. If I ever thanks Obama for low gas prices it’s to be snarky at conservatives who blamed him for high gas prices.

  • fifthdentist

    Fucking markets, how do they work?

  • dingojack

    But, but, but — wasn’t Raygun all about supply-side economics?!?

    What’s so difficult that the Party ‘o God can’t understand it?

    @@ Dingo

  • dingojack

    Just get a weegie-board and do want Nancy did. Call up St. Ronnie of Altzheimers — back when he had a (sort-of-working) mind (in the early thirties).



  • Area Man

    It would be hard to completely dismiss a form of price fixing during his administration.

    Oil is a globally traded commodity, so price-fixing is effectively impossible. You’d have to get OPEC on board, and they can’t even agree amongst themselves.

    The purpose of drill-baby-drill is not to lower oil prices, which it has at most a modest effect on, nor to promote “energy independence”, which it can’t do and is a flawed concept anyway. The purpose is to increase the profits of energy companies by way of ignoring environmental concerns. Cheney held meetings in secret so they could talk about it openly without the need to bullshit. Obama has not deviated much from this policy, except for a moratorium on deep-water drilling in the wake of the BP disaster. Obama’s policy seems to be to keep all the elite players happy, whether it’s a good idea or not and whether it will dissuade them from blaming him anyway.

  • gshelley

    How exactly do they propose disconnecting US oil prices from world prices? Whatever happened to their free market love?

  • moarscienceplz

    When President Obama took office, gas prices were about $1.85 per gallon

    Maybe they were on planet Wingnuttia, but I’m pretty sure I was paying over $3/gallon here on Earth in January of 2009.

  • lorn

    Sophistry, propaganda, taking credit for the sun coming up, and blaming their opponents for the sun going down are par for the course. I’m disappointed that politicians, advised by their very expensive and learned media and political consultants and gurus, use such brainless rhetoric.

    But the real shame is that that sort of rhetoric works.

    Sharing the blame with a public that has the attention span of a gnat is a press and commentators that are so deep into their highly profitable learned helplessness that they can not bring themselves to call any politician or political party out on their lies. Of course, some times the lies and stupidity are so obvious and egregious that something has to be said. Which brings us to the single most shameful and destructive of all acts, the ‘both sides do it’ rant. The perfect way of relieving the pressure by expressing outrage without upsetting anyone or precipitating even the smallest hint of change.

  • tfkreference

    I know I paid $4.25/gallon in July 2008. If it was $1.85 when Obama took office, it wasn’t anything that W (intentionally) did – unless his heart grew three sizes in the last six months of his presidency.

  • Area Man

    Maybe they were on planet Wingnuttia, but I’m pretty sure I was paying over $3/gallon here on Earth in January of 2009.

    $1.84 is roughly correct for the time when Obama was inaugurated. Oil prices plummeted in the second half of 2008 due to the Great Recession because global demand was way down. As the economy slowly recovered, prices crept back up again, but gas prices didn’t exceed $3 a gallon until late 2010. If Gingrich really wants to blame Obama for that, he’s giving him credit for the economic recovery.

  • Artor

    “This is staggering when you think about the fact that if he’s reelected,” Lee said, “it’s a total of an additional 58 months. With that increase, gas prices will be up at around $6.60 per gallon.”

    FAIL! You know Lee really wanted to say “$6.66 per gallon,” but he fell short.