Oil prices are continuing to spike, boosting gasoline to $5 a gallon in the nation’s capital and helping to push President Barack Obama’s approval rating to an all-time low.
Crude oil for June delivery rose $1.19 to $109.47 a barrel in early Wednesday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and by 11 a.m. had spiked $2.43 to $110.45.
At least one gas station in Washington, D.C., was selling its cheapest grade of gasoline for $4.99 a gallon on Tuesday, with higher grades selling for $5.09 and $5.19.
Obama’s approval rating, meanwhile, has plummeted to 41 percent in a Gallup poll, the lowest number yet of his presidency, and a Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Tuesday showed him with a 47 percent approval rating, down seven percentage points since January.
His approval rating among independents has dropped to just 35 percent, down nine points from his average for the year, according to Gallup.
“Rising gas prices are no doubt a problem for the White House, and may be a main factor in the plummeting poll numbers,” The Hill observes.
“The higher gas prices generally rise, the lower a president’s approval ratings tend to be.”
And Reuters reported: “Rising fuel prices are a persistent concern for the White House, which is worried about their impact on the economy and on voters’ wallets as Obama runs for re-election.”
Crude prices are recovering from a slide earlier this week “prompted by remarks from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, that the oil market was oversupplied,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
“Oil futures have largely tracked the weaker dollar in recent sessions, which has been sliding since Standard & Poor’s warned the U.S.’s coveted triple-A credit rating was threatened by rising debt levels.”
Despite the disruption of oil exports from Libya, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said on Sunday that the kingdom had slashed output by 800,000 barrels a day in March due to “oversupply.”
The move sent “a strong signal that OPEC will not act to quell soaring prices,” Reuters also reported.
Even more ominously, the former Saudi oil minister has warned that oil prices could soar to at least $200 or even to $300 a barrel if Saudi Arabia suffers serious from the political unrest that has gripped Libya and other nations in the Arab world.
As Newsmax’s Insider Report recently disclosed, Sheikh Zaki Yamani, who was responsible for Saudi oil policy from 1962 to 1986, referred to protests last month calling for political reforms in Saudi Arabia, and said underlying discontent there remains unresolved.
President Obama has responded to rising oil prices by blaming speculators for driving gasoline prices higher and straining American consumers.
“It is true that a lot of what’s driving oil prices up right now is not the lack of supply. There’s enough supply. The problem is speculators,” he told an audience in Virginia on Tuesday.
“I know that if you’ve got a limited budget and you just watch that hard-earned money going away to oil companies that will once again probably make record profits this quarter, it’s pretty frustrating.”
Also on Tuesday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he is concerned that rising prices for crude oil and gasoline could undermine America’s economic recovery.
The impact of higher oil prices on the economy came into sharper focus on Wednesday when American Airlines reported a huge loss of $436 million in the first quarter of the year as it battled rising jet fuel prices.
American spent $1.8 billion on fuel in the first quarter, an increase of $366 million from this time last year.
Billionaire Donald Trump, who is considering a run for president in 2012, places the blame for high gas prices this year squarely on OPEC.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV in late January, he called OPEC “an illegal monopoly” and declared: “I think it’s unfair. I think it’s illegal. If you have a store and I have a store and we collude and set prices, we go to jail.
“Here you have 12 men, in this case all men, they sit around a table and they set the price of oil.
“We have to do something about OPEC because that’s the life blood of the country. They’re draining our life blood. We cannot allow that to continue.
“What kind of power do we have over OPEC? They wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for us.”
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