VIDEO – Mitt Romney uses misleading statistics on gas prices, saying they’ve “doubled” since President Obama took office. That is because gas prices crashed along with the rest of the economy in the fall of 2008. On inauguration day in January 2009, gas prices were still at extremely low levels due to the economic crash. In fact, gas prices rising back to the levels they were before the crash is actually more of an indicator of the recovery.
In Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention, he said that gas prices have doubled since President Obama took office. This is a completely misleading statement. On August 31, 2008, the average price of gasoline was $3.67, which is about where it is now, $3.72. But due to the economic crisis triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the price of gas plunged all the way down to $1.59 by the end of December, 2008.
Of course, when Obama took office a month later, gas prices were still only at $1.87. The fact that gas prices have returned to the level they were at before the economic crash is an indicator of the recovery. The Romney campaign has repeatedly shown that Mitt Romney has never let the truth get in the way of a political score. But this one is particularly desperate and requires little to debunk. Most Americans who were driving four years ago remember paying $4.00 per gallon of gas under President Bush in the summer of 2008.
Fox News has also been using this lie in their “reporting”. And like Romney, they have no shame in trying to exploit a tragedy. In a recent segment on Fox Business Channel, they tried to use the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya to push for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. As his guest, Fox host Neil Cavuto hosted the Consumer Energy Alliance’s David Holt. Holt claimed “we can drastically reduce our imports” by expanding offshore drilling and natural gas extraction, and approving the Keystone XL pipeline.
Holt’s statement is complete nonsense because the world market sets the price of gasoline. An analysis prepared for the Department of Energy found that the Keystone XL pipeline would do virtually nothing to affect U.S. oil imports because much of the oil it would transport would be exported to foreign countries anyway.
Of course, the Consumer Energy Alliance is a big oil industry group. Not only is David Holt the president of CEA, but he is also a managing partner of at HBW Resources, a lobbying group for the Canadian tar sands industry that would benefit greatly from the pipeline.
Also in the Fox News segment with the big oil lobbyist was this graphic, which uses the same misleading statistic Mitt Romney used in his speech. Of course, in 2008, everyone on Fox News was pointing out that the president cannot directly affect gas prices and increasing domestic drilling would have little effect in bringing them down.
But this graph of gas prices over the last 8 years clearly illustrates why Mitt Romney and Fox News are way off base in trying to blame President Obama for “doubling gas prices”. The low price on Obama’s inauguration day was a complete aberration due to the economic collapse and the return in gas prices to where they were before is a result of the rebound in the economy:
Graphic credit: GasBuddy.com