Fox News is once again blaming President Obama for a rise in gasoline prices by pointing to unusually low prices early in his first term. But experts say that market factors, not U.S. energy policy, have driven prices upward since a temporary price drop in early 2009.
To mark President Obama's “second Super Bowl in office,” Fox & Friends ran a segment highlighting “what has changed over the last four years, especially when it comes to the money you are spending.” Steve Doocy noted that “gas has soared more than 56 percent since Super Bowl XLIII,” when the national average was $1.93 per gallon:
However, Fox's comparison was disingenuous. At the time of Super Bowl XLIII, in February 2009, the U.S. was just beginning to crawl out of a recession that dampened demand -- and thus prices -- for crude oil. Michael Canes, former chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute, told Media Matters that prices were unusually low “because the world economy began to slow down and ultimately to experience a deep recession.”
The following chart from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows that crude oil and gasoline prices fell sharply in late 2008, just before President Obama took office:
As the Wall Street Journal has noted, higher prices today reflect stronger demand.
Conservative media have repeatedly tried to blame President Obama for rising gasoline prices, reacting with disbelief to explanations of the real factors at work. Throughout 2012, Fox found bad news for him in low and high prices alike.
But experts from across the political spectrum have said that market factors -- not federal energy policy -- dictate gasoline prices, and increased drilling would not make much difference. According to the Energy Information Administration's 2012 Annual Energy Outlook, domestic crude oil production has actually increased over the past few years, reversing a decline that began in 1986--and gas prices have gone up anyway. The only way to make Americans less vulnerable to gasoline price spikes is to reduce our dependence on oil, an initiative the Obama administration has embraced.