Under fire from Republicans over rising gasoline prices, the White House on Tuesday highlighted factors beyond its control for developments on global oil markets, as it sought to deflect blame on a potentially damaging election-year issue.
"There are no magic solutions to rising oil prices," said White House press secretary Jay Carney, citing a "variety of factors on the global price of oil," including geopolitical unrest and rapid growth in India and China.
U.S. gasoline prices jumped in January, leading overall consumer prices higher and offering a reminder of the risks that energy costs pose to the economic recovery.
Republicans have chided President Barack Obama for remarks they said appeared to welcome higher gas prices as a way to encourage Americans to change their use of energy use, and they plan to use gas prices as a weapon in the November election.
Obama, welcoming congressional approval of an extension of the payroll tax cut, said earlier on Tuesday the $40 per paycheck that this break was worth would help offset "the rising cost of gas - which is on a lot of people's minds right now."
"The president is very aware of the impact that the global price of oil has on families," Carney told reporters. "The fact that this is happening only underscores the need ... to have a comprehensive energy policy," Carney said.
After rising in January, the national price for regular unleaded gasoline in the United States hit $3.58 a gallon in the week through last Monday, according to the Energy Information Administration. It had started the year around $3.32 a gallon. (Reporting By Laura Macinnis and Alister Bull; Editing by Sandra Maler and Vicki Allen)
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