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.
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.