Memorial Day Gas Lower than Bush’s

Exclusive: A top Republican indictment of President Obama has been the surge in gas prices and his supposed inability to constrain them. But gas prices have been dropping and are now lower than they were last Memorial Day – and lower even than the last Memorial Day under President George W. Bush – notes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Even as Republican Mitt Romney continues to chide President Barack Obama over gas prices, Americans head into the Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the vacation season, with gas prices not only lower than they were last year but lower than they were four years ago.

On Memorial Day weekend 2008, with Republican George W. Bush in the White House, gasoline prices for the United States were about $3.88 a gallon, rising toward a high of $4.12 a gallon in mid-July 2008. That compares to about $3.68 a gallon today and $3.81 a gallon one year ago.

Gas pump at a filling station. (Photo credit: Aaron Lawrence at the English language Wikipedia)

In other words, when compared to four years ago, the Obama administration has not presided over a dramatic increase in gasoline prices as Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has suggested. Indeed, there has been a drop from where prices were under Bush in summer 2008.

What a chart of the average gas prices does show, however, is that a far bigger factor in gasoline prices is the strength of the world economy. In May and July 2008, global business was still churning along – facing mounting problems but with few foreseeing the catastrophe just over the horizon.

After the Wall Street crash of September 2008, economic growth fell off a cliff – and so did gasoline prices. By year’s end, gas prices were down to about $1.61 a gallon. From there, they began a slow climb back along with the world’s economy.

Gas prices also have reflected international tensions especially in the oil-rich Middle East. For instance, Israel’s saber-rattling over Iran’s nuclear program earlier this year contributed to a spike in global oil prices and thus what Americans paid at the pump. As those war fears have receded in recent weeks, so have gas prices, down from about $3.87 a gallon to today’s $3.68.

Nevertheless, Romney still brings up gasoline prices in his stump speeches, arguing that President Obama hasn’t done enough to keep prices low. However, if that’s true of Obama, it was also true of George W. Bush on Memorial Day 2008.

[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

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10 comments on “Memorial Day Gas Lower than Bush’s

  1. Please look at a 4 year avg. US retail gas price chart, particularly at the data starting in Sept. 2008, then pay close attention to Dec. of that year, then focus on what happened after President Obama was sworn in to office. I will look for another fair journalism piece after your review. Comparison of Memorial Day to Memorial Day really shows no indication as to what has transpired over 4 years and the impact to the American wallet. I am so happy to pay a few cents less this Memorial Day, but I wish I had the net difference back that I have spent since the end of the Bush Administration.

    • And I wish I had the net difference back given the price before the US of A illegally invaded Iraq.

  2. desraejs on said:

    How nice to cherry pick a couple of dates when they favor your “god” (small g). Could you tell me when gas prices were below $2.00 during the Obama years, other than when he took office and prices were around $1.85 a gallon???

    • So you don’t know how to read a graph that drops that steeply do you? Or you didn’t bother with the link.

      In the summer of 2002, gas sure was cheap in the US. 24 months later that had changed, which is when that Iraq “liberation” thing went off the rails and somehow it got out that the Iraq war was not going to pay for itself or end soon. Then petrol kept going up in price until Lehman Brothers collapsed.

      Funny, ironic really, what irresponsible ibankers can do. That’s drive the price of petrol up with abusive speculation backed by nothing (2003-2008), and then drive the price down when the fact of the nothingness becomes publicly obvious.

  3. Pingback: Memorial Day | Curation Club

  4. Big Em on said:

    Once again, this gives lie to statments by the right wingers about Obama. While the global energy/petro politics are complicated, and the actions of the USPOTUS may or may not have much direct bearing on gas prices at any given time (and, like many things in life, it’s often a lot easier to make things worse than to make them better), the right’s attacks on Obama are found to be hollow mistruths. It’s pretty pathetic when they can’t even get their lies to withstand minor scrutiny, but I’m sure they’re relying on the short-term memory of the public (and having the MSM sufficiently cowed to prevent any real accountability) … and tomorrow they’ll have another new lie to replaces today’s lie, and it’ll be ‘so yesterday’ to dredge up the stuff that happened two days ago.

    (PS – minor note: I’m not sure how much the picture of a gas pump contributed to this article? Especially since the actual prices aren’t visible.

  5. Vic Anderson on said:

    Why conflate criminal speculators’ bets driving oil futures with either ObamaRomney? The only price back-off occurs when We, The Consumers STOP BUYING Their GAS!

  6. Mike Lamb on said:

    At about 3% REAL inflation (as opposed to the POST REAGAN fake inflation) per year for teh three plus years of the Obama Presidency you would have about a 10% increase in price just due to inflation.

    On $3.50 a gallon that would be $0.35.

    Now, if you really want lower gas prices you are going to have to elect a President who puts in the Justice Department people who will go after the banks and speculators with as much effort as the current justice department seems to go after Occupy Wall Street protestors.

    Hey, given the current choices “Obama, Romney, a ressurected Santorum, Gingrich back from the dead, a Michelle Bachman claiming to be brighter than Romney or Perry, etc.” you just ain’t gonna get that kind of Justice Department.

    My guess is that the oil companies wanting a Republican President are keeping up prices (just go back to Bob Woodward and “Plan of Attack” for the conversation between Saudi Prince Bandar and President Bush in which Bandar notes the Saudi’s can manipulate the price of gas at the pump through the price of oil and that it will be lower before Bush’s run for reelection).

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  8. LinearBob on said:

    You wouldn’t know the price of gasoline was any lower this Memorial Day if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, because gasoline here is stuck around $4.30 per gallon of unleaded 87 octane “Regular”. The excuse we have been given is that some refineries are “off line for maintenance” and that one major refinery failed to “restart” after some repair work. The last time I heard stories liek that, “they” were talking about power plants and why we had “rolling blackouts” out here. Only later did we find out about the market manipulation of Enron and the energy “traders” buying and selling power to “the grid” discussing the names they had for their “market games” on the telephone.