“It’s a metaphor for an economy that keeps biting people despite overall good numbers.”
— Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., then chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, talking to the New York Times in April 2006 about how Democrats could exploit voter anger over high gasoline prices, then surpassing an average of $2.50 per gallon.
Gas prices haven’t risen this quickly since the spring of 2005 – jumping 45 cents in the past 31 days.
The reasons now are as complicated as they were eight years ago. International unrest, limited refinery capacity, investors betting on economic recovery and OPEC antics are all still part of the formula for explaining why people are suddenly digging deeper to fill up.
The political consequences, too, may be very similar.
In 2005, voters were unhappy that the invasion of Iraq, called a war for oil by critics, had actually helped produce higher, not lower gas prices. Supply disruptions, Arab upset over the war and other consequences had helped drive up the price at the pump for American consumers.
President George W. Bush recognized the problem and made lower gas prices a major part of his 2006 State of the Union address, calling for increased domestic energy production to wean the nation from foreign oil (anyone remember “switchgrass”?)
Democrats were flaying Republicans for the high prices, saying that the two oilmen at the top of the federal government were helping their fat cat friends at Exxon at the expense of the little man.
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