Last week, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits went up, causing widespread speculation that even though corporate profits are up, the economy is not recovering from the great recession and may even be heading for a dreaded “double dip recession”. One of the main things being blamed for this problem is high energy prices, as the price of gasoline — fueled by conflicts in the middle east — has refused to come down in any significant way. With the normal increase in oil consumption in the summer as people drive more and use more air conditioning, the economy could get even worse.
Companies have pulled back on hiring because of high gas and food prices, driven by excessive speculation in those commodities. So Obama did something smart — he released 5% of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserves. And he got other nations to release an equivalent amount of oil.
His timing was perfect. Oil prices had been falling slightly, making speculators nervous. By releasing oil now, he is effectively shorting the price of oil, which will force speculators to sell, further lowering the price of oil.
Now here is where it gets ironic. You’d think Republicans would be happy, since this will help lower the deficit they claim to be so worried about. But they hate Obama so much that they instinctively disagree with everything he does. So they (pretty much unanimously) attacked the move as purely political. House Speaker John Boehner said “By tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the president is using a national security instrument to address his domestic political problems.”
Fixing unemployment, the economy, and high gas prices is purely political? Does anyone else hear what the Republicans are admitting? If getting the economy going again will help Obama politically, then they want the economy to continue to suck. Even worse, they want the speculators to continue to drive up prices and create bubbles.
You can figure out the rest.
UPDATE: Remember this when the Republicans force the government to default. They aren’t actually interested in reducing the deficit, they are interested in making the economy worse. Does anyone wonder if it was a coincidence that the economy stopped recovering when Republicans retook the House in November?