The Washington Post

Falling at the pump: gas prices and GOP credibility

There was a great story in The Post yesterday that was nothing but good news for the American consumer. “Gas prices expected to fall further heading into summer” read the headline. Truth be told, the story isn’t new. Dropping pump prices have been reported on for about a month now.

Yet, what interested me most was the chart that accompanied yesterday’s story. It depicts the daily average price for regular gas over the last year, from May 2011 through May 2012. Were it a noise meter, it would also chart the volume of Republican hysteria over rising gas prices.

(AAA ‘s Daily Fuel Gauge Report/The Washington Post)

As gas prices hit their highest levels in February so did the noise from the GOP. There were demands that oil companies be able to drill everywhere. There were calls for the Keystone pipeline to be approved. And the harsh attacks and the nonsensical solutions — hello? $2.50 gasoline?! — forced President Obama to respond.

By March, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) declared that Obama was "fully responsible for what the American public is paying for gasoline.” Not true, as Bryan Walsh at Time pointed out then. And by April, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS put out an ad echoing this point. “No matter how Obama spins it,” the narrator intoned, “gas costs too much.”

But by then, gas prices were starting to fall. As yesterday’s Post story noted, the national average gas price, which peaked at $3.91 in early April, was down to $3.64 on Memorial Day. That’s 17 cents cheaper than a year ago. According to Politico, Republicans are still going to target the president on gas prices. But with fuel costs expected to continue their downward slide, the GOP can expect its credibility on this issue to follow suit.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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