By Ben Geman - 02/23/12 04:05 PM EST
“And that is another example of how they are economically out of touch,” she said.
Policymakers across the political spectrum, especialy in the near term, face few options to substantially affect pump prices, which are tethered to oil prices set on global markets.
But surging gasoline prices are nonetheless feeding GOP attacks against the White House, and pose a threat to Obama’s campaign, which has been buoyed by a spate of good economic news recently.
White House officials have moved to defuse the issue in recent days with a multi-pronged message that includes touting the extra money to consumers from the payroll tax cut.
Press secretary Jay Carney has warned there are no “magic solutions,” while highlighting rising oil production on Obama’s watch and support for new Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan lease sales, as part of a wider energy strategy that boosts alternative fuels and increases auto efficiency to use less gas.
Republicans on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail allege President Obama is blocking expanded energy supplies.
They point to actions such as the rejection of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline and the administration’s decision not to offer up areas off the Atlantic and Pacific coast for drilling.
GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich, in particular, has latched onto gas prices in an attempt to rescue his struggling campaign.
“I've developed a program for American energy so no future president will ever bow to a Saudi king again and so every American can look forward to $2.50-a-gallon gasoline,” the former House Speaker said at Wednesday night’s debate in Arizona.
Gingrich vows that if elected, he would massively expand areas made available for oil-and-gas drilling, approve the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, roll back environmental regulations and take other steps he argues will ease costs.
Wasserman Schultz, on MSNBC Thursday, defended Obama’s energy policy.
“President Obama has employed an all-of-the-above strategy. We have more domestic energy production in the United States today than we have ever had. We have investments in alternative energy, we are making sure that when it comes to solar and wind and other kinds of renewable fuels that Barack Obama is talking about, making sure we make those kinds of investments,” she said.
Carney, in a briefing Wednesday, stopped short of saying that Obama’s policies will lower gas prices, noting, “I’m not going to predict gas prices,” and instead emphasized energy security.
“I can't predict what oil prices will be in a year or two years or even six months. I would be careful of anyone who says they can,” he said. “But what we can do through policy is increase our domestic production of oil and gas, increase our overall domestic sources of energy, including alternative energy, and thereby insulate ourselves from some of the shocks that come in the future.”