Tea Party to Use 14-Ft Inflatable Gas Pump to Blame Obama for High Oil Prices


Photo credit: Futureatlas.com via Flickr/CC BY

You've probably heard of the Americans for Prosperity, the infamous hard-line libertarian group that was co-founded by the Koch brothers. Many experts credit the organization with the rise of the Tea Party, and it still serves as a primary ideological driver. And it's far from resting on its laurels. Right now, the group has announced that it is undertaking a campaign to blame Obama for rising gas prices in an effort to drum up support for more offshore drilling. How will it do so, you might ask? By driving around the nation with a 14-foot inflatable gas pump and unloading a couple pretty boldfaced lies.First, the giant pump. Here's Politico with a story titled 'Right aims to pin pump pain on W.H.':

The Americans for Prosperity campaign, under the rubric Running on Empty ... will kick off this week with rallies in Omaha and Grand Rapids, Neb., followed by events in Missouri, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The local stops, complete with a 14-foot inflatable gas pump, will be paired with a website allowing consumers to see the amount of money they're losing in price increases and to "send the bill" to Obama, as well as more traditional radio and television campaigns.

"We want to link the regulatory policies of this administration to the fact that these prices are going up," said [AFP President Tim] Phillips.

Which brings us to the lies. Note Phillips' diction there -- "we want to link". Not "Obama's policies have caused" (though he claims that elsewhere). He is perhaps resorting to such world play because the idea that Obama's policies are causing high gas prices is patently absurd.

In 2010, Obama's policies allowed domestic oil drillers to produce more oil than any year since 2003. And numerous studies -- even one from the conservative, fossil fuel-loving Energy Information Administration -- shows that expanded drilling, which is what the conservative groups are vying for, won't have an impact on gas prices for years. And when it finally does, it will be a matter of pennies.

Furthermore, Tea Partiers would do well to remember that in a globalized world, the price of oil is determined by a complex set of interlocking factors -- on which US domestic offshore production has only the teeny-tiniest of impacts. Booming global demand as the world economy recovers and turmoil in the oil-rich Middle East play far larger a role in determining our gas prices than Obama's policy preferences ever could.

But that won't stop the Tea Party from reviving its 'Drill, Baby, Drill' aspirations in an equally moronic fashion. Perhaps its new slogan, which we can expect to go something like "High Prices & Obama = Bad, More Drilling = Good", will again duly reflect the intellectual rigor the GOP has dedicated to the issue thus far. Worst of all, of course, is that Obama is playing along, and caving to these baseless demands.

I (and countless others) have said it before, and I'll say it again: the only thing that will bring down the costs of transportation in the long-term is sustained investment in clean energy and alternative fuels. If Obama was really interested in "winning the future", he'd be doing more of that, and less copping out to bogus calls for more fossil fuel production on behalf of Big Oil.

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Tags: Barack Obama | Oil | United States