01 Mar 2012 Out of Touch Obama, by Deneen Borell
With soaring gasoline prices, increasing unrest in Afghanistan and threats of a nuclear Iran on his plate, President Obama made it a priority to call the Georgetown University law student criticized by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh for demanding free contraceptives.
Using this cheap publicity stunt to shift attention from his policy failures may bolster Obama’s standing with his left-wing base, but it will not help the President’s standing with American families struggling to make ends meet.
Defending “free” mandates at the expense of religious liberty and morals shows how out of touch Obama is with the average American family.
Energy policy, in particular, brings out the worst in Obama. The President’s refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, for example, is especially baffling with rising gasoline prices. A public opinion poll by the Pew Research Center recently found 66 percent of those surveyed supported the pipeline with only 23 percent opposed.
Asked by Representative Alan Nunnlee (R-MS) if the Department of Energy considered it a priority to seek lower gasoline prices, Secretary Steven Chu replied: “No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy.”
After a flurry of criticism for his comments, Chu subsequently testified: “We very much want to not only slow the price, but reverse the price increase in gasoline.”
Putting aside Chu’s flip-flop, raising prices is the most efficient way to decrease consumption. And delivering higher prices is the foundation of Obama’s current energy policy.
During the 2008 presidential election campaign, Obama promised that his proposed “cap-and-trade” emissions regulation plan would make electricity prices “skyrocket.”
Before Chu got the head job at the Energy Department, he supported significantly higher gasoline prices, saying: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
When cap-and-trade failed in Congress, an undeterred Obama used his executive power to meet his higher energy price goal. Following the BP oil spill, approvals for oil drilling permit approvals were dramatically reduced. The refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is consistent with reducing supply.
Additionally, the EPA is waging an all-out assault on coal-fired utilities. A series of EPA regulations are forcing the closure of over 50 coal-fired power plants. American Electric Power, FirstEnergy Corp and GenOn Energy Inc. have announced power plant closures due to new EPA regulations.
The costs associated with the EPA’s new rules are being passed on to customers. In Iowa, MidAmerican Energy is asking for a 6.7 percent rate increase — part of which is connected to compliance with EPA mandates.
Similarly, Duke Energy received approval for a 7.2 percent increase in rates for its North Carolina customers. Again, the company cited environmental mandates as the cause of the increase.
Commenting on the increasing cost of keeping people lit and warm, MidAmerican president and CEO Bill Fehrman said at an Iowa hearing on the rising costs: “I don’t think many people understand the impact the federal government has on customers’ energy bills.”
But there are individual stories of the hardship Obama’s energy policy is inflicting on the American people. One customer at that same Iowa meeting complained, “We literally live in the dark. We keep one light on in the room we’re in. We cannot afford our energy bills.”
As more and more of the Obama war on fossil fuels is implemented, businesses will be forced to pass along increased compliance costs. This collateral damage will be felt by the public through increased gas prices, utility bills and the cost of groceries and other store-bought goods.
A tipping point cannot be far off.
Frustrated Americans will be looking to hold policymakers accountable for their loss in disposable income and inability to keep their homes at a comfortable temperature and their vehicles on the road.
When that time comes, distractions such as phone calls to law students seeking free contraception won’t be enough to pacify a public that’s already paid too much.
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Deneen Borelli, a fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network, is the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. This commentary previously appeared on the NewsMax website. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.