For Barak Obama it looms out there like a dark and dangerous storm on the horizon. With each passing moment and each penny or two creep upward at the gas pump it grows closer. Thunder rumbles in the distance and flashes of lightning can be seen tucked away in the folds of ominous clouds.
The price of gas is rising and if it gets bad enough it could undermine the economic recovery and provide the republicans with a hot button issue they can jump on over and over. Don't think they aren't all ready sharpening their knives over this one. John Boehner has begun to preach to the troops that they should, "embrace the gas pump anger. This is a debate we want to have," he said.
Indeed they do. Nothing will drive an American into a rage quicker than a sudden hike in fuel prices. The republicans will lay everything at the president's door step. He has stopped the Keystone pipeline that snakes from Canada to Houston, with one branch turning east to Illinois. His new budget calls for for vast cutbacks in the tax breaks oil companies receive for drilling and exploration.The Newt is all ready on the phone tweeting about opening up federal land for more exploration and drilling. Look for the others to follow in his foot steps.
One could go all Ron Paul on this and point out that the oilies really don't like this president and want to see Obama gone. To get to that goal they are artificially jacking up the prices despite reports that gas consumption in this country is at an eleven year low. To hell with all that price and demand stuff. Stick it to the dude and wail about all those oceans of oil just below the surface throughout Alaska and other wildernesses. Give us what we want and we'll make it all better. Never mind that we ultimately control the price, not some temporary occupant of the white house. Ah, for the good old Bush days. Those were people who understood a profit doesn't become decent until it becomes obscene.
It is probably a bit more complicated than that, although the sneaking suspicion is that it is a very real part of it. The angst over Iran has something to do with the current shift. Those goofs are the third largest exporter of oil in the world and they are threatening to shut down the Straight of Hormuz through which one fifth of all the oil in the world flows. The energy demands of places like India and China are going through the roof. We aren't the only big time addict on the street any more. There are, as they say, other markets. Before it is over some are saying we could be looking at $4.25 per gallon.
Yes, it could get ugly. A quick glance at a US map shows that the proposed Keystone runs through the states of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas plus a branch through Missouri. A future phase would route another branch through Montana, then South Dakota again and Nebraska. And how many of those states did Obama carry four years ago? None. Those are votes he didn't get and will never get. He did get and desperately needs once again the environmentalists who threatened to not support him if he signed off on the project. It is the perfect Catch-22 that the republicans have been waiting for.
Some Joe Schmoe in Ohio or New Jersey isn't going to give a rat's ass about the environment when the cost of him getting to and from work just jumped twenty-five percent or so. When gas prices hit $3.51 a gallon last year the average American was spending 8.4 percent of his or her usable income on automobile fuel. If that number closes in on 10% people are going to get madder than hell and instead of looking at big oil they are going to be staring directly at the guy who is in charge of the country.
That part of the bumper sticker that says, "He saved GM," isn't going to mean much if no one can afford to drive a car. No, Obama is vulnerable on this one unlike much of the trumped up bull shit the republicans are talking about now. Look for them to home in on this and hammer him day in and day out.
Every time the price goes up the election tightens. Boehner and his lackeys know that. Unfortunately for the president their keepers down in Houston know it too and they control the game.