President Obama today accused Republicans of “licking their chops” at soaring gas prices, while admitting his administration has no “silver bullet” to ease pain at the pump.
Obama gave a talk on energy issues on a visit to the University of Miami’s industrial energy-efficiency center. He then attended a fundraiser at the Biltmore with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).
“Just like last year, gas prices are climbing across the country – except this time, even earlier. And that hurts everyone – everyone who owns a car; everyone who owns a business,” Obama said.
“Now, some politicians always see this as a political opportunity. You’re shocked, I know. Last week, the lead of one news story said, ‘Gasoline prices are on the rise, and Republicans are licking their chops.’ Only in politics do people greet bad news so enthusiastically. You pay more, and they’re licking their chops?” he added.
“And you can bet that since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas. I’ll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill, and step three is keep drilling. We heard the same thing in 2007, when I was running for President. We hear the same thing every year. We’ve heard the same thing for thirty years.”
The president called that a “bumper sticker,” not a solution.
“Well the American people aren’t stupid,” he said. “You know that’s not a plan – especially since we’re already drilling. …It’s not a strategy to solve our energy challenge. It’s a strategy to get politicians through an election.”
Proclaiming that there are “no quick fixes” to lowering gas prices, he touted a strategy for “responsible” oil production in America and long-term alternative energy sources including wind and nuclear energy, and battery-powered cars.
“The payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away,” Obama said. “Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies will fail. But as long as I’m president, I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.”
To remedy drivers’ pain in the short-term, the president promised “we will keep taking as many steps as we can in the coming weeks” without offering specifics.
“None of these steps I’ve talked about today represent the silver bullet that will bring down gas prices tomorrow, or reduce our dependence on foreign oil overnight,” he said. “And that’s because there is no silver bullet. There never has been.”
The address didn’t mention the killed Keystone XL pipeline project, something noted by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who introduced a bill last week that would ban Obama from tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve unless he approves Keystone.
Vitter called the speech “yet another example of the president putting a political agenda in front of common-sense energy policy.”
“I actually agree with the president on one thing – there is no ‘silver bullet,’ and we do need an all-of-the-above strategy,” the senator said. “But that means focusing on proven energy sources like oil and gas first, and letting other, newer energy sources succeed and fail in the marketplace. Unfortunately, this administration’s approach has been to throw billions of dollars at unproven energy projects while just hoping that the technology would catch up.”