Today, President Obama pushed out a new social media effort to promote the payroll tax cut extension that the Republicans have already surrendered on. The president would rather play demagogue than take yes for an answer. For many Americans, the president claimed that the cut leaves about $40 a month into their pockets, so the president wants people to take to twitter and tweet what that $40 will mean to them.
It won’t mean very much at all in the face of $5 per gallon gas. And based on the earlier-than-ever appearance of gas at $3.50 per gallon, $5 per gallon gas is very much in our future.
In 2008, average gasoline prices had hit inflation-adjusted records nationally by the summer, but they didn’t climb above $3.50 a gallon across the U.S. that year until April 21, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. It happened again last year, but not until March 6.
But $3.50 a gallon gasoline is already here in 2012, weeks before refineries typically shut down for springtime maintenance, and weeks before the states switch from their less expensive winter blends of gasoline to more complicated and pricier summer blends.
“This definitely sets the stage, potentially, for much higher prices later this year,” said Brian L. Milne, refined fuels editor for Telvent DTN, a commodity information services firm. “There’s a chance that the U.S. average tops $4 a gallon by June, with some parts of the country approaching $5 a gallon.”
This price rise is happening despite the fact that overall demand is down about 5% from a year ago. What might $5 per gallon gas mean? A stalled economic recovery. Lost jobs. No vacations this summer. Retirement delayed again, or up in smog. More belt tightening for families while Washington just keeps spending with abandon — and most importantly, after Obama has scuttled the XL Pipeline, which was the most visible sign that he does not care at all what $5 gallon gas means to the average American.