Friday, March 16, 2012

Ian M. MacIsaac: Obama to Republican candidates on gas prices and alternative energy: You lie!

  President Obama said during a Thursday morning campaign appearance in Largo, Md. that the Republican presidential candidates blaming him for rising gas prices and decrying his plans for alternative energy were stuck in the past and hopelessly reactionary.

  “If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail,” the president joked, they “would have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society—they would not have believed the Earth was round.”

  The U.S. is economy adding a steady 200 to 250,000 jobs each month, unemployment inching down closer and closer to 8 percent, and the Republicans are facing radically declining presidential election prospects as their main ammunition against the president—the weak economy—melts away.

  With their heretofore-accepted narrative going down the tubes, the Republicans are scrounging for anything with which to bash the president.

  The Republicans have been pounding Obama over oil drilling and alternative energy since before he became president, and with gas prices closing in on a national average of $4/gallon, it must have seemed like the perfect time for an all-out assault on the president over gasoline.

  With any luck, the Republican candidates would be able to switch the argument from the economy that keeps improving due to President Obama’s policies (stimulus bill, Dodd-Frank, payroll tax cut), to something they all know President Obama has no control over (the price of gas) and to a policy (drilling) that Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich all see as the key to solving America’s energy crisis, even though it is clearly not.

  Indeed, if drilling was the solution to the American energy crisis, the crisis would almost certainly be over by now. Here are the facts: Obama has put more offshore oil rigs to work than has any other single U.S. president in American history; domestic production is up 11% overall.

  In fact, Obama has authorized so much drilling in American waters that many on the left are protesting against him over it. (Rarely does a politician get it from both sides on one issue, but with the level of misinformation in this campaign, how can one be surprised?)

  As Obama said with a wry smile at his speech in Largo, “We’re drilling all over this country. I guess there’s some empty spots where we’re not drilling. We’re not at the National Mall. We’re not drilling at your house.”

  And despite all this drilling, gas prices are going nowhere but up. The solution to our energy needs is obviously elsewhere, especially with countries like India and Brazil expanding their demand for the same fossil fuels every year.

  This was the issue Obama had come to Largo to speak about in the first place. His speech presented a wide array of possible alternative sources of energy--concentrating primarily on wind and solar bur ranging from biofuels to natural gas, from algae to clean coal—that his administration would subsidize, invest in, or somehow support or work to expand the use of in the United States.

  Overall, he noted, his administration was investing in alternative energy at more than twice the rate of any other previous administration. Not to mention, he remarked at one point: weren’t gas prices higher in the last year Bush was in office than they have ever been under Obama?

  If the president is in control of gas prices, the Republicans hold the record for Worst Job Done, not the Democrats. Either way, however, the future is not in fossil fuels, despite the protests of this country’s right wing.

  “They dismiss wind power,” the president said Thursday, referring to the Republican presidential candidates and pundits. “They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biolfuels," he said, referring to Newt Gingrich's crack about trying to put algae in a gas tank if it was such a good potential alternative fuel source. "They were against raising fuel standards. I guess they like gas-guzzlers.”

  About the author: Ian MacIsaac is a staff writer for the Capital City Free Press. He is a history major at Auburn University Montgomery in Montgomery, Alabama and former co-editor of the school newspaper, the AUMnibus.

Copyright © Capital City Free Press

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