By Andrew Restuccia - 02/23/12 10:08 PM EST
White House press secretary Jay Carney sparred Thursday with a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) over President Obama’s energy speech.
The quarrel on Twitter underscores the heightened tensions surrounding White House and GOP energy proposals amid rising gas prices. The tensions boiled over Thursday after Obama delivered a speech arguing that the GOP is using rising gas prices to score political points.
The Twitter fight started when Carney, who has more than 280,000 followers on the social networking site, linked to 2008 remarks by Boehner in which the then-minority leader touted an “all of the above” energy plan as a response to rising gas prices.
Republicans have long called for an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and Obama adopted the phrase last month in his State of the Union address. Carney was presumably pointing out the similar phrasing to counter GOP criticism of Obama’s energy speech earlier Thursday.
“#memorylapse? In 2008 Spkr Boehner endorsed an “all of the above” policy b/c gas prices ‘will certainly rise again,’” Carney tweeted.
From there, Buck took aim at the president’s energy policies in an attempt to undercut White House efforts to show that Obama is serious about expanding domestic drilling.
Carney responded: “sorry @Brendan_Buck, facts are facts: under Pres Obama, domestic oil & gas production is up, reliance on imports is down.” He also accused Republicans of “playing politics” with the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the extension of the payroll tax cut.
“As POTUS said, a bumper sticker is not a policy. Americans know better — and give Congress record low approval for a reason. Nice work,” Carney added, referencing a comment in Obama’s speech in which the president accused Republicans of not having a serious plan to deal with the country’s energy problems.
In recent months, the White House has launched an aggressive campaign to tout the president’s record on drilling, pointing to federal data that show increased oil production during Obama’s time in office.
The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) said last month that domestic oil production increased from 5.1 million barrels per day in 2007 to 5.5 million barrels per day in 2010. That number is expected to increase to 6.7 million barrels per day in 2020, the highest level since 1994.
Meanwhile, foreign oil imports into the United States are also expected to drop from 49 percent of liquid fuel consumption in 2010 to 36 percent in 2035. Additional oil savings are expected as a result of the administration’s new vehicle-fuel-economy regulations, the EIA said.
Republicans argued that Obama is taking credit for the accomplishments of past administrations, advances in technology and increased drilling on state and private lands.
Obama touted the figures in his speech Thursday at the University of Miami, and accused Republicans of using high gas prices for political gain.
“Only in politics do people root for bad news, do they greet bad news so enthusiastically,” Obama said before a crowd of students.
“You pay more and they’re licking their chops. And you can bet since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas,” Obama said. “I’ll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill and then step three is keep drilling.”
Republicans roundly slammed Obama’s energy speech Thursday.
“American families and small businesses are once again suffering from rapidly rising gasoline prices, and the Obama Administration’s policies are making it worse,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said in a news release.
The GOP has blamed Obama for high gas prices, arguing he is standing in the way of expanded drilling and criticizing his decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
Obama blamed his Keystone rejection on Republicans, who secured inclusion of a measure in a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut that required a decision on the project within 60 days.
Federal policymakers have very few options to lower gas prices in the short term, according to experts. Gas prices are largely tethered to oil prices, which are set on global markets. Even a dramatic expansion of domestic oil-and-gas production would have little short-term effect on gas prices.