Gas prices have dropped significantly in recent weeks, just in time for the summer driving season. Nationally, the price of a gallon of unleaded peaked at $3.91 in April, and fell to $3.64 by Memorial Day. That's 17 cents cheaper than a year ago, and prices are expected to fall even further. Republicans began hammering President Obama over the high cost of fuel several months ago, blaming his policies — like blocking the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline and restricting offshore drilling — for earlier forecasts that gas could soar to $4 or even $5 a gallon. Will the easing of pain at the pump give Obama a lift?
This discredits the GOP and helps Obama: The "Republican hysteria" over fuel prices, and their promise that they'd deliver $2.50 gas, was always nonsense, says Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post. But strangely, they don't have any plans to stop making this a campaign issue, continuing to call for Obama to rubberstamp Keystone and let oil companies "drill everywhere." As fuel costs continue "their downward slide, the GOP can expect its credibility on this issue to follow suit."
"Falling at the pump: Gas prices and GOP credibility"
But gas prices would be even lower if the GOP had its way: The energy picture isn't brightening "as a result of the president's policies — but in spite of them," says Nicolas Loris at The Heritage Foundation. It's not just Keystone — Obama also backpedaled on tapping our massive domestic oil shale reserves, which are far larger than anything Saudi Arabia has. Wherever gas prices go, they'd be far lower if the president would let energy companies increase our domestic oil supply, as Republicans suggest.
"Ten actions Congress can take to lower gas prices"
Presidents have little influence over fuel costs: The U.S. only produces 9 percent of the world's oil, say Dean Baker and Bruce Bartlett at Politico. Even if the "drill-everywhere crowd" gets everything it wants and we increase output by 20 percent — a "ridiculously optimistic" assumption — we'd save less than 20 cents a gallon. The truth is, Obama hasn't imposed many restrictions on the energy industry, and the world market is so big that presidents simply can't do much to change prices.
"Politicians' gas price promises just hot air"