GOP lawmaker says Obama 'tone-deaf' on the toll gas prices take on business

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) alleged Wednesday that President Obama is “tone-deaf” on energy policy, the latest signal that falling gasoline prices won’t stop Republican attacks on the White House.

“Gas prices, I believe, are one of the poster-children, if you will, for the tone-deaf policy of the current administration,” Price said during a policy breakfast hosted by The Hill on Wednesday morning.

“I say tone deaf because it’s clear that the administration either doesn’t understand the connection between gas prices and small business and job creation or doesn’t want to understand it,” he said.

Price said high gasoline prices are taking a major toll on small-business owners.

“There is a significant connection between prices at the pump and the ability of the economy to thrive,” he said. “If you’re spending more of your hard-earned money to fill up your gas tank, then you’ve got less of your hard-earned money to invest in your small business.”

Price and other Republicans have spent months pummeling Obama over high gasoline prices, blaming the president’s energy policies for the spike. But the Obama administration has rejected those allegations, noting that federal policymakers have limited options to lower prices in the short-term, as they are tethered to oil prices set on world markets.

Obama, keenly aware of polls that show high gasoline prices could hurt him going into the election, launched an aggressive campaign to counter GOP criticism. The president often touts an “all of the above” energy plan that focuses on expanded domestic oil and natural-gas production, improved vehicle fuel efficiency and increased investment in renewable energy.

Gasoline prices have dropped in recent weeks, weakening Republican attacks on Obama on the issue.

Gasoline prices surged to a national average of nearly $3.94 per gallon in early April, after months of steady increases. But prices have begun decreasing in recent weeks, dropping to a national average of about $3.73 Wednesday, according to AAA.

Price’s comments Wednesday offered the latest indication that Republicans continue to see gasoline prices and energy policy generally as winning political issues going into the election.

Price accused Obama of copying Republicans’ “all of the above” energy slogan and failing to follow through on his promise to pursue all forms of energy. Republicans have used the “all of the above” talking point for years, while the administration began using it in recent months.

“In politics, when you get something that works, it gets copied. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and so we’re very, very honored to have the president adopt our 'all of the above' energy statement,” Price said. “The problem is that his policies don’t match the statement.”

Price added: “How can you have an 'all of the above' energy policy and say no to the Keystone pipeline? How can you have an 'all of the above' energy policy and say no to greater exploration? How can you say that you have an 'all of the above' energy policy and say no to expanded clean coal technology?”

The president has touted federal data that show oil production at its highest level since 2003, an effort to counter GOP claims that the Obama administration is standing in the way of expanded drilling.

Total production from U.S. lands and waters, which the federal government controls, has increased during Obama’s time in office. But offshore production dipped in 2011, according to Energy Information Administration data.