Don’t look now, but gasoline prices across the nation are falling, and experts expect to see the price at the pump to continue to drop. More than a third of the nation is experiencing gas prices below $3 a gallon. In Missouri, a number of cities are seeing prices around $2.80 a gallon. MarketWatch is expecting prices to fall an additional 15 to 20 cents a gallon across the country before bottoming out. This is the cheapest gas has been in the country at this time of year since 2010.
US News and World Report states that the sharp decrease in gas prices over the past few weeks, along with the expected decrease over the coming weeks, means that American consumers will have billions of dollars in disposable income to pump into the economy. Therefore, the upcoming holiday shopping season should see a rather sizable uptick from the previous year. We should also see a rise in consumer confidence over the next quarter. A number of industries, such as clothing, footwear and restaurants, should see a sizable boost this fall and winter.
Per MarketWatch, the drop in gas prices is due to sluggish demand and price wars between oil producers. Some if this could be attributed to a still sluggish global economy. Another factor could be that American consumers prefer vehicles with greater fuel efficiency. Also, while Americans are driving at roughly the same pace as they did in 2005, millennials are shifting more and more towards public transit and other forms of transportation, such as walking and bike riding.
There are a vast number of factors that go into fuel prices. While it can be argued whether or not a presidential administration’s energy policies have long-term effects on resource prices, economists generally agree that the White House really can’t do anything to change prices in the short-term. Despite this, during President Obama’s tenure in the Oval Office, conservative pundits and Republican politicians have continuously blamed him anytime the price of gasoline has jumped up. Interestingly, those same voices tend to grow very quiet whenever we see a drop in the price, like we are currently experiencing.
In the months leading up to the 2012 election, conservative voices, led by Fox News, tried to push the meme that Obama’s refusal to sign off on the Keystone XL pipeline, along with his other energy policies, was to blame for rising gas prices. In August 2012, less than three months before the election, the Washington Times editorial board claimed that Obama’s push for more green energy was causing the surge in gas prices. Earlier that year, in May, Republican candidate Mitt Romney pulled a Palin and claimed that higher gas prices at the time were due to the lack of expanded oil drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. In September 2012, less than two months out from the election, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly encouraged Romney to keep blaming Obama for gas prices.
Of course, you won’t hear a peep from these people now that prices are on a downward spiral and the additional disposable income will positively affect other portions of the economy. If you do hear anything, it will likely be right-wing mouthpieces contradicting themselves and claiming Obama has nothing to do with the drop. Or, even better, they’ll find a way to spin it as a negative and then blame Obama. Regardless, they’ll follow their mantra to the end. The mantra? Blame Obama for everything.