Post fact-checker Josh Hicks today does a great job knocking down the ubiquitious falsehood that Obama wants you to pay higher gas prices, which conservatives continue to repeat with abandon.
The latest iteration of this comes from GOP Rep. Steve Scalise. “President Obama said he would prefer a gradual adjustment to near $4 a gallon gasoline,” Scalise said on March 8th. “So the president’s got his wish, and people are furious about it.”
As Hicks notes, the basis for this appears to be a 2008 interview in which Obama lamented that “we’ve been consuming energy as if it’s infinite.” Asked if he thought “these high prices” could help us, Obama doesn’t expressly oppose the idea, claiming he would prefer people undergo “a gradual adjustment” to them. But as Hicks points out, Obama was discussing gas prices that were already up at around $4 a gallon.
More recently, at a White House press conference on March 6th, Obama made his postion clear: “I want gas prices lower.” In both cases, Obama said he doesn’t want gas prices to hurt families’ finances.
The other data point conservatives cite is that Obama’s energy secretary has called for our gas prices to rival those in Europe. But that quote from Steven Chu comes from September 2008, before he was energy secretary. Today he clarified that this is no longer his view, and that administration policy is to do everything possible to bring prices down.
As always, however, the important thing about this falsehood is not what it says on the surface, but the narrative that forms its subtext. In this case, as in many others, the message is that Obama harbors some sort of elitist agenda that is in some basic way at odds with the interests of ordinary Americans. He is fundamentally, irrevocably hostile to the idea of letting the free market — freedom itself, really — work its magic on behalf of American consumers; his agenda trumps all. That’s the storyline. The facts of the matter are entirely beside the point.
UPDATE: Here’s Hicks’ conclusion on this falsehood:
Some of Obama’s comments from 2008 suggest that he thinks there’s a silver lining to higher prices, but they also indicate that he doesn’t want energy prices to affect the pocketbooks of working families ...Scalise earns three Pinocchios for suggesting that the president “got his wish” with $4-per-gallon gasoline.