Fear and Loathing at the Gas Pump

gas station attendant
NBC New York

It is a trip that underscores what is becoming a big problem, and not just for the President.

President Obama flies to the battleground state of Florida to talk about the rapidly rising price of gasoline.

“He’s very aware of the impact that it has and fully understands the anxiety it creates” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. The President is also aware what the surge in oil prices could do to the economic recovery and his own re-election.

“It hits people hard, it is personal and they have an inclination to blame the guy in charge” says Los Angeles based political consultant Scott Macdonald. “And Obama faces a double wammy in that it could damage the recovery.”

Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the US economy.

With more of that money going into the gas tank there is less for everything else. Right now most economists say an increase won’t cripple anything, and was expected as the economy grew (more energy being used in manufacturing, shipping and consumption).

But that assumes prices won’t continue to climb as they have for the past two weeks.

For Obama it’s a good thing California isn’t a battleground state because we have the rest of the nation-- save for Hawaii -- beat on gas prices.

The top 10 mainland cities for average gas prices are all in our state (Santa Barbara leading the way).

His last two day trip contained a passel of fundraisers and not one policy speech or public appearance. That’s what happens when your state has a ton of money and is in the bag 10 months out from the election. But while the President doesn’t need to worry too much about winning here in the fall… things are different for his allies in Sacramento.

Governor Jerry Brown’s expected ballot measure in November contains not just temporary hikes in income to wealthy Californians but also a hike in the state sales tax. Attorney General Kamala Harris helpfully wrote up the description in the most favorable light leaving out one key point: the Governor’s tax hikes means the state’s gas prices will go even higher.

“Some believe the sales tax hike was a poison pill to begin with, and that was before gas prices went up” says Macdonald.

Later this week Brown will visit with the President at the White House. Topics to be discussed we can only imagine. Gas prices are a likely agenda issue. While they are a concern for the President’s re-election for the Governor they could be a building disaster lurching toward November.

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