No Quick Fix?
In response to criticism of his handling of gas prices, President Obama has repeatedly stated that there is "no quick fix." To some extent, this is true. But then, where has he been for three and a half years?
That's been more than enough time to fix the problem, but he's done nothing but make it worse. If the president had promoted domestic production of fossil fuels as he should have done, we wouldn't need a quick fix. We would have had a fix already in place, and it would now be working.
The president specializes in making excuses, and "no quick fix" is his latest excuse for failed leadership. We will be hearing the "no quick fix" mantra a lot this year, along with attacks on "greedy speculators" and "selfish oil companies."
Meanwhile, on his four-stop "energy tour," Obama continued pushing the failed policies that have resulted in soaring gas prices. At every stop -- even at Cushing, Oklahoma, the heart of oil country -- he insisted that drilling for oil is not enough. It will take "all of the above," he stated, including greater subsidies for solar outfits like Solyndra and higher taxes on oil companies. How is that going to bring down gas prices?
At the same time, Obama's surrogates are attacking Wall Street speculators and "greedy oil companies" for driving up prices. Those same speculators drove down prices during the Bush administration -- why are prices soaring only now, if not as a result of Obama's policies? And those so-called greedy oil companies have had to fight Obama for permission to drill anywhere. New drilling permits are down 300% in the Gulf of Mexico since Obama took office.
So what action does Obama take to fix rising gas prices? He visits Ohio State University to laud the Buckeye Bullet2, the world's fastest electric car. He tours the country's largest photovoltaic plant in Nevada, and he talks up wind energy in Oklahoma. How is this going to lower gas prices?
It's not, but that is exactly the point. Phasing out fossil fuels has been at the top of the left's energy agenda for decades.
For over 40 years the left has brought out one argument after another against fossil fuels. Whether it is "peak oil," "carbon emissions," "can't drill our way out," or "no quick fix," every argument has the same goal: to force Americans off fossil fuels and onto expensive, government-regulated green alternatives. All of these arguments have turned out to be wrong. Peak oil may be 200 years away; carbon emissions have not raised the sea levels by 12m, devastated our croplands, or engendered monster storms. We can drill our way out, and yes, there is a "fix."
Everything from "peak oil" to "no quick fix" is a thinly disguised attempt at government takeover of the energy sector, something the left has plotted since at least the 1930s. The left's goal is to shift control of a vital sector of the economy, and one that plays a crucial part in the lives of all Americans, into the hands of government. Along with ObamaCare and financial regulation, it is the third leg of Obama's socialist takeover of the economy.
When Obama tells us there's no quick fix, he is not suggesting that we should get started on a fossil fuel fix. He's saying that since there is no quick fix with fossil fuels, we're better off dumping them and moving on to renewables. But if the fossil fuel fix is not all that quick, the green energy fix is glacial. In fact, it is no fix at all, because no matter how many windmills and solar farms we subsidize with taxpayer money, it will not be enough to fuel even one tenth of our energy needs.
When Obama proclaims there is no quick fix, he implies that we must give up on increased domestic production of fossil fuels and turn to alternatives. But those misnamed "alternatives" are not really alternatives at all. Wind and solar now account for less than 2% of America's energy needs. No matter how much money Obama throws at the problem, it won't be enough to increase solar and wind power by 5,000%. The proper course is to withdraw all subsidies and allow market forces to decide where to allocate capital.
Yet Obama refuses to consider this obvious solution, despite the fact that in the real economy and at the state level, where federal regulation has not yet intruded, it is already working. The oil and gas boom in North Dakota, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other states is spurring growth, producing cheap energy, and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Obama's response to the energy boom taking place in these states has been to direct the EPA to seek national regulatory powers over it. If only he could gain control over oil and gas drilling -- regulatory control that still rests mainly with state governments -- he would soon have his boot on the neck of America's energy companies -- extorting billions from them to further his political ambitions.
That he has not yet been able to do so must pain the president greatly. He must also be irked that high gas prices -- the same high prices he has worked so hard to create over the past three and a half years -- now pose an obstacle to his re-election. If only Congress had passed cap and trade back in 2009, he would already have had the oil companies under his heel.
If Obama is re-elected, the effort to bring the energy sector under national regulation will only be intensified. A large part of that effort will be punishing new taxes and environmental regulation at the national level. None of this will result in lower gas prices. In fact, it will continue the push toward European price levels, currently at $10 a gallon.
Despite what the president tells us, there actually is a "fix" for high gas prices. It is to get government out of the way and allow America's world-class energy companies to compete in the production of cheap and reliable energy. But because Obama will never agree to this, a necessary first step is to remove Obama from office in November.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and article on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).