The Washington Post

Obama empty of ideas on gas prices

President Obama’s speech today at the University of Miami addressing his administration’s energy policies can be refined in energy terms as “get used to high gasoline prices, and get ready for the problem to get worse.” I’m stunned by this. I thought his political handlers would give him a fig leaf or some cosmetic front to hide behind that would let him say he was trying to achieve lower prices. Instead, he did the opposite.

The president acknowledges that when gas prices go up, it “hurts everyone,” but he doesn’t follow that fact with any clear thought about what he would like to do about it. He is not even willing to use the bully pulpit of the White House to call for lower prices for American consumers. What other conclusion can be drawn from what he didn’t say today than what I’ve suggested in the past — Obama is affirmatively for higher gasoline prices as a way to force Americans to use less?

Obama did take the time to claim that Republican calls for a plan to reduce prices were politically motivated. He’s right, this is good politics for Republicans, not because of any cynical manipulation, but because we have the legitimate opposing point of view. The first step toward lowering gasoline prices would be for the president to say that he wanted it to happen. Well, he doesn’t say that; he said the opposite. Let’s have an election that includes a referendum on this question in November.

The president belittles the political debate when he says the only Republican plan is “drill, baby, drill” and that that is only a bumper sticker. Well, in the absence of a plan, the Obama bumper sticker reads “shut up and pay.”

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.

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