Feb 6th 2016

Fuel Prices, Faulty Logic and False Indignation: Conservatives Gone Wild

by Jeff Schweitzer

Jeff Schweitzer is a scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst; Ph.D. in marine biology/neurophysiology


"When [fuel] prices go up, Obama is at fault; when prices decline, silence."

"[....] Obamacare [....] Health care spending grew at 3.9% in the last three years, the lowest growth rate in 50 years."


"When Bush left the Oval Office on January 20, 2009, the Dow was at 7,949, a decline of 25% over the eight years Bush was president.[.....] it is now well into the 16,000s"

----

"Obama's deft handling of domestic and global affairs has sent the GOP into a paroxysm of childish pique and impish rants of outrage"

"Once the hard facts of an objective reality are rejected as inconveniences, anything is possible, as is evident with every GOP presidential debate."

Now this is something you will never hear mentioned by a Republican presidential candidate during any debate: the price of gas. The cost of fuel has not been uttered one time by a single candidate in any GOP debate; nor was the issue ever raised prior to the caucus in Iowa. Odd that, because fuel prices were previously trotted out as clear proof of Obama's incompetent handling of the economy. When prices go up, Obama is at fault; when prices decline, silence. No retraction of earlier claims of economic doom in the face of the alleged failure of White House economic policy.

The Gold Standard of Double Standards

In the last election, John Boehner (R-OH) said of gas prices, "This debate is a debate we want to have." Well I guess they do not want to have that debate anymore. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have all been persistently silent about the pesky fact that the price of gas today is the same as what we were paying nearly ten years ago.

With a commodity price so easily quantified, we have the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that hypocrisy is truly the core foundation of right-wing thought and the basis for Republican politics. I challenge anybody to provide the equivalent of what you see below for the Democrats. We will demonstrate in black and white that the GOP vocally, loudly and undeniably blamed Obama for expensive gas as prices climbed toward $4 per gallon. The current silence is all the more noticeable because the right openly blamed the president not only for pursuing a bad energy policy but for actively seeking higher prices. Rick Santorum said that Democrats "want higher energy prices." On that basis he opined that "We need a president who is on the side of affordable energy." Hmmm; wouldn't that be Obama?

Here are just a few more examples of this outrageous double standard. When reading these, ask yourself what these politicians are saying today:

Mitt Romney: Obama to Blame for High Gas Prices
Romney said on Fox News (where else?) that he believes "absolutely" that Obama is responsible for high gas prices. To bolster his point, Romney noted that Obama does not allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR), and his refusal to build the Keystone pipeline from Canada to Texas. Romney said of Obama, "His policies are responsible for not having America using the energy that we have in this country."

Paul Ryan: Obama Gone to Great Lengths to Keep Gas Prices High
Romney's vice presidential candidate said that... "what's frustrating about the Obama administration's policies are they've gone to great lengths to make oil and gas more expensive." He does on to say, "Let's not forget the fact that the regulations coming out of the EPA are making it harder for us to harness home grown American energy."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
"The president holds the key to addressing the pain Ohioans are feeling at the gas pump and moving our nation away from its reliance on foreign energy. My question for the president is: what are you waiting for?" Getting more specific, Boehner claimed that, "The president's own policies to date have made matters worse and driven up gas prices."

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY): Obama Fully Responsible for High Gas Prices
Senator Barrasso claimed "The president has been a complete obstructionist on that, and his energy policy, if you want to even call it a policy, has in my opinion actually contributed if not caused the pain at the pump, and he should be held fully responsible for what the American public is paying for gasoline."

Representative Cory Gardner (R-CO): Obama Policies to Blame for High Gas Prices
Cory Gardner jumped on the bandwagon, complaining that, "The longer we let politicians like President Obama continue to block responsible American energy production, the longer our nation will continue to suffer with high gas prices and limited energy security."

National Review: Report Finds Obama Policies to Blame for High Energy Prices
"What President Obama failed to accomplish through the so-called 'cap and trade' program, his administration is attempting to accomplish through regulatory roadblocks, energy tax increases, and other targeted efforts to prohibit development of domestic energy resources."

Rush Limbaugh: Obama Wants Higher Gas Prices
Oddly, in his rant against Obama, Rush asks, "Will the media ignoring the rise in gas prices be able to keep that from becoming a major factor in people's minds over the economy and Obama's role in it?" Funny given the torrent of news coverage on higher gas prices, and the GOP's consistent drum beat blaming Obama. Do these guys ever apologize for being so spectacularly wrong?

High Gas Prices are President Obama's Fault
In this article, the author claims that "The Obama administration's energy plan all along was based upon the rise in energy costs in order to force Americans to be 'greener.'" The piece goes on to say that "President Obama wants Americans to believe that he is powerless to stop the high rise of gasoline prices yet it is his (in)actions that have created the crisis... What the president fails to realize is that there is no one to blame for rising energy costs other than himself."

Billboard Blames Obama for High Gas Prices
In this case, a conservative businessman by the name of Bret Eulberg posted for all to see the message: "Gas $1.85. Obama took office. Tight drilling regulations. No Pipeline. Obama- Higher Gas.

Can any reader, of any political persuasion, even those who only watch Fox News, claim that the GOP did not openly, blatantly, consistently blame Obama and his failed energy policies for high gas prices? Can we be any clearer about that? No matter who you are, no matter your political persuasion, you simply cannot deny this fact.

How is it then, if Obama is to blame for high gas prices, if Obama's energy policies have been disastrous, that prices have fallen to well below $2/gallon at the pump? After all, the fact of high gas prices was offered as proof that Obama had failed. But if his policies impact fuel prices, would they not be responsible for both the rise and fall of those prices? No sane person can claim he is at fault for higher prices but deserves no credit for lower costs. His policies influence price or not; nobody but the worst partisan could claim that Obama has no influence on gas prices as they decline, but that his policies are to blame for prices as they rise: such cognitive dissonance is a sign of mental instability, something that now seems to be a hallmark of the conservative movement.

Tip of the Iceberg

This outrageous double standard on fuel prices is not an anomaly. Republicans come down with a sudden case of amnesia when the subject turns to unemployment, the deficit, the stock market, the war on terror, and health care costs. As a small demonstration, let's just look at two of these:

Health Care

In spite of the intense, unyielding, never-ending opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, nobody can deny that Obama has tackled the problem of health care costs growing out of control when nobody before him would. And all signs point to success: Health care spending grew at 3.9% in the last three years, the lowest growth rate in 50 years.

"Although the economic downturn contributed to that slow growth, ACA provisions that incentivize providers to be more efficient while improving the quality of care, such as Accountable Care Organizations, medical homes and value-based purchasing, are helping to drive these encouraging trends, too. Some cost savings are even higher than expected. Before the ACA, Medicare spending was expected to grow 6.8% over the next 10 years, but new projections show a dramatic slowdown in spending growth to 4.8%. That 2% drop in spending will result in cost savings of $751 billion over the ACA's first 10 years."

I will wager that "health care costs have lowest growth rate in 50 years" is not a soundbite you will hear on Fox News.

Stock Market

The DJIA was at 3310 on Bill Clinton's first inaugural day. The market was 6813 when he was next inaugurated. At the end of Clinton's second term, on the day Bush took office, the DJIA was at 10,578; that is the market Bush inherited from Clinton. When Bush left the Oval Office on January 20, 2009, the Dow was at 7,949, a decline of 25% over the eight years Bush was president. By March the DJIA had completed its tumble to bottom out with a 12-year low at just over 6500.Republicans blamed Obama for the continuing decline from 7,900 to 6,500 during his first month in office, but not Bush for the loss from 10,600 to 7,900 in eight years as president. Here is just one example:

Wall Street Journal (March 6): "Obama's Radicalism is Killing the Dow." Author Michael Boskin prognosticated that, "It's hard not to see the continued sell-off on Wall Street and the growing fear on Main Street as a product, at least in part, of the realization that our new president's policies are designed to radically re-engineer the market-based U.S. economy, not just mitigate the recession and financial crisis."

Perhaps most astonishing of all, John Tanny of Real Clear Markets, wrote on November 25, 2008, an article entitled, "This Is Obama's Market, Good and Bad." Obama was not yet president! That did not stop Tanny from writing that, "Lacking clarity, investors can only guess about what's ahead based on Obama's decidedly anti-business rhetoric used during the campaign. Whatever direction he takes, it should be clear that today's stock market is the Obama stock market, so it's up to him to decide its basic direction." Even though Obama was not yet president.

The stock market doubled in value during Obama's first 14 months in office; it is now well into the 16,000s even after recent declines. Republicans no longer mention talk about the stock market after Obama's nearly 8 years in power. Where is the talk about Obama's radicalism killing the Dow because he was re-engineering our economy? When the DJIA hit 17,000, did you hear conservatives say "this is Obama's market"? Hmmm? Cat got their tongue?

Coin of the Realm

Sure, hypocrisy is the coin of the realm in politics, and both sides play that game. But Republicans have taken the false indignation of double standards to a level rarely before seen in our political discourse. Obama's deft handling of domestic and global affairs has sent the GOP into a paroxysm of childish pique and impish rants of outrage. The freak show we call the Republican primary is the inevitable and natural decline of reason as the GOP embraces ever more radical thought untethered by an objective reality. In this twisted world of hate, low gas prices and a strong stock market are not real, but the threat of Obama taking your guns is; climate change is a liberal hoax, but Planned Parenthood is selling body parts; sons of immigrants become anti-immigration; Obama is a foreign-born radical Christian, but also a Muslim, who hates America. Fantasy becomes dogma, faith trumps fact, and reality is optional. As a consequence of this Dantean descent into the tragicomedy of conservative hell, we have Trump, Cruz and Rubio. The right wing has become a nightmarish olio of xenophobia, misogyny and religious extremism growing on the foundation of anti-intellectualism and a disdain for science. The GOP has become a Party of medieval doctrine, with a platform designed to take us back to the Dark Ages. Once the hard facts of an objective reality are rejected as inconveniences, anything is possible, as is evident with every GOP presidential debate.




Dr. Jeff Schweitzer is a marine biologist, consultant and internationally recognized authority in ethics, conservation and development. He is the author of five books including Calorie Wars: Fat, Fact and Fiction (July 2011), and A New Moral Code (2010). Dr. Schweitzer has spoken at numerous international conferences in Asia, Russia, Europe and the United States.Dr. Schweitzer's work is based on his desire to introduce a stronger set of ethics into American efforts to improve the human condition worldwide. He has been instrumental in designing programs that demonstrate how third world development and protecting our resources are compatible goals. His vision is to inspire a framework that ensures that humans can grow and prosper indefinitely in a healthy environment.Formerly, Dr. Schweitzer served as an Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy under former President Clinton. Prior to that, Dr. Schweitzer served as the Chief Environmental Officer at the State Department's Agency for International Development. In that role, he founded the multi-agency International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program, a U.S. Government that promoted conservation through rational economic use of natural resources.Dr. Schweitzer began his scientific career in the field of marine biology. He earned his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He expanded his research at the Center for Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine. While at U.C. Irvine he was awarded the Science, Engineering and Diplomacy Fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.Dr. Schweitzer is a pilot and he founded and edited the Malibu Mirage, an aviation magazine dedicated to pilots flying these single-engine airplanes. He and his wife Sally are avid SCUBA divers and they travel widely to see new wildlife, never far from their roots as marine scientists..To learn more about Dr Schweitzer, visit his website at http://www.JeffSchweitzer.com.

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