Today GOP Senator Roy Blunt’s latest, typically sclerotic, effort at political jujitsu, a missive with the subject line “skyrocketing gas prices,” popped into my email box (it’s also available online here). Blunt, who has always reciprocated the affection that the fossil fuel industry has demonstrated for him via big chunks of campaign change, claims that the President has some how appropriated his own “”all-of-the-above” energy strategy – although Blunt’s actual proposals have been pretty short on “all” and long on “drill.” Alas, Roy laments, the president just doesn’t know how to go about achieving that goal. The proof of that contention, Roy claims, is demonstrated by the aforementioned “skyrocketing” prices:
During the three years since the president took office, gas prices have doubled from $1.85 to $3.59 per gallon — meeting his prediction that fuel prices would “necessarily skyrocket” under his administration’s policies.
With no end in sight, families and job creators in Missouri and nationwide are bracing for the prospect of paying $4 a gallon for gas by this summer.
What’s wrong with this? It is, to hear Blunt’s fellow conservative, George Will tell it, “preposterous”:
Blunt’s right that gas prices are higher than when George Bush left office in 2009, but the reason isn’t because Bush’s policies were better. It’s just a simple economic fact that energy prices plummet when the economy tanks and ol’ George did a real number on the economy. Speaking of a recent downturn in gas prices, economics professor Jerry McElroy observed:
So goes the economy, so goes the price of oil, […] When the economy is booming, then the price of oil is rising – and vice versa, as we see today.
The bad news is that greater economic activity spurs demand which fuels speculation which, in turn, raises prices at the pump. Want to know how speculation works? Read this Think Progress report on how such GOP über-supporters as the Koch brothers play the energy markets. Then tell me that the surge in gas prices are the fault of the Obama administration.
The good news is that it’s possible to see the rising cost of gas as one more of several recent indications that the economy is, indeed, improving. And, as far as energy goes, thanks to President Obama’s successful application of the “all-of-the-above” strategy that Senator Blunt wants to take credit for, the United States, as USA Today reports, is:
…. enjoying a mini oil boom. It’s producing more crude oil and, for the first time in decades, has become a net exporter of petroleum products such as jet fuel, heating oil and gasoline.
None of this, of course, would be of interest to Senator Blunt, who, like the current crop of GOP presidential contenders, seems to have little interest in the way things actually work in the real world. All of which obviously leaves conservatives who, like George Will, still retain some small shred of integrity, grinding their teeth in frustration.