THE HIDDEN ISSUE – AT 8:24 A.M. ET: We've long said that gasoline prices could be the hidden issue of this campaign. That notion was lost for a time as gas prices actually headed down. Well, they're up again, big time, and the storm in the Gulf isn't helping. From Bloomberg:
Hurricane Isaac and a deadly blast at Venezuela’s Amuay refinery pushed gasoline to an almost four- month high and threatened to revive a debate about energy costs in the run-up to the presidential election in November.
Futures jumped yesterday in New York as Isaac forced closures of Gulf Coast refineries and reduced rates at others. That market is also reeling from an Aug. 25 explosion in Venezuela that killed at least 48 people and closed the country’s largest fuel-making plant. Futures are up 23 percent since their 2012 settlement low of $2.5501 a gallon on June 21.
Prices at the pump will be the highest ever for the U.S. Labor Day holiday, AAA said yesterday. The surge reignites an issue that has pitted President Barack Obama, who has called for the elimination of billions of dollars of subsidies enjoyed by the oil and gas industry, against the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. It also spurs speculation that Obama will release supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ease prices for consumers.
“Given this administration’s belligerent rhetoric against the oil industry, it’s going to be very easy for Romney to pin the blame on Obama,” said Stephen Schork, president of Schork Group Inc., a consulting firm in Villanova, Pennsylvania. “The White House will be on the defensive. It makes an SPR release likely sooner rather than later.”
COMMENT: A release from the SPR is too little, too late. The Obama energy policies, reckless and unrealistic, have done much to put us where we are. And yet, we have the resources to be energy independent by Mitt Romney's goal of 2020. Romney will unleash our energy industry. Obama will, if he gets a second term, try to strangle it. It's what his base demands.
Romney should make gas prices a major issue. They will stay high through election day.
August 29, 2012