Gas costs skyrocketed 5.1 percent during July, the highest increase for the month since at least 2000, according to The Hill, a development which could enable Republicans to keep the country’s focus on the sluggish economy leading up to the election.
“Watching the national average last week, one might have expected war broke out in the Middle East or a major hurricane shutting down production, neither of which happened, yet gasoline prices spiked,” said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan, according to CBS 6 Richmond. “The scary thought is what may happen to gasoline prices should one of the two actually take place. The Great Lakes was hosed with refinery issues and a major oil pipeline issue, and while other regions saw increases, they paled in comparison to those in the Great Lakes states.”
The nationwide average for regular gasoline is $3.60-per-gallon, a 24-cent rise over the past four weeks, according to AAA. The prices, which had fallen below $78-per-barrel for U.S. crude in June, are expected to climb even higher.
“I am expecting that over the next couple of weeks, gasoline prices are going to continue to drift up another 10 cents a gallon,” Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, told The Hill. He predicts a peak in the range of $3.70 to $3.80.
Analysts told The Hill that they believe prices will drop again in September but it leaves Republicans a few weeks to blame Obama and Democrats for spiking prices.
Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, told The Hill that gas prices will be part of their overall economic message. “We are going to be talking about every economic factor,” she said.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee intends to use the pain at the pump to criticize some Senate Democrats and Obama over the prices.
“The NRSC fully intends to highlight the disastrous effects President Obama’s EPA has had on our nation’s energy prices including their rejection of the Keystone Pipeline,” spokesman Lance Trover said, according to The Hill.
In February, the New York Times reported that House officials were preparing for Republicans to use angst about gas prices to help their argument that Obama is incapable of turning around the economy. Speaker John Boehner instructed fellow Republicans to embrace the gas-pump anger they find among their constituents, according to the Times.
“This debate is a debate we want to have,” Boehner told his conference in February, the Times reported. “It was reported this week that we’ll soon see $4-a-gallon gas prices. Maybe higher. Certainly, this summer will see the highest gas prices in years. Your constituents saw those reports, and they’ll be talking about it.”
In March, Mitt Romney accused Obama of having a presidential policy intended to “see energy prices rise,” the Times reported, and mocked the president for once saying that he would like gasoline prices to “change gradually.”
Gas prices before Obama took office were a favorite point of criticism for Democrats, including Obama, who criticized President Bush for high gas prices at a campaign stop. “At a time when our economy is in turmoil, when wages are stagnant, hardworking families are struggling to pay rising costs, few costs obviously are rising faster than the ones people pay at the pump,” Obama said.
“When George Bush asked Dick Cheney to come up with our energy policy a few years ago, he met with the environmental groups once he met with the renewable energy groups once, he met with the oil and gas companies 40 times. So it’s not surprising then that the laws that have come out of have been good for the oil companies, not so good for the consumers.”
That was tame compared to his party colleagues.
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said at an event, "The Bush administration is in the pocket of big oil, and it is hurting Americans in the pocketbook. They are so deep in the pocket of big oil, we need to drill down just to find them."
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