Presidential Race 2012: Pain at the Pump, and It May Cost Obama the 2012 Presidential Election

The price of gasoline is important for the American public. With every increased cent at the pump, American men and women lose purchasing power to buy the other essentials of daily life. President Obama should be worried. With November fast approaching, the conclusion of Obama’s first term is almost here, and gas prices have the potential to influence whether he gets a second one.

This November, the American public will not be drawn to the Grand Old Party due to a gaffe at a campaign press conference or a lackluster performance in a debate. Rather, the American public will look to former Governor Mitt Romney if gas prices soar. While the global price of crude oil is something that the president can’t really control, angry Americans will still vent their frustrations through the vote.

Aging refineries present a pressing issue for the price of American gasoline this year. The newest U.S. refineries were built in the mid-1970s, nearly forty years ago. Aging equipment will soon become less reliable, leading to an increase in fires and outages, resulting in a short-term rise in crude oil and gasoline prices.

What this means is that American energy is at a potential turning point. The winner of the upcoming election will have to decide whether to commission improvements on these refineries or focus on continuing the push for an energy revolution. Obama’s cash for clunkers program, subsidies for alternative energy research and tax credits for hybrid vehicle purchases were attempts to encourage the development of clean energy vehicle alternatives. If the Obama administration continues to pursue policies that increase the adoption of clean vehicles, this will reduce the demand for gasoline, bringing down prices and benefiting the U.S. economy.

Ultimately, this November will be telling for the future of America on many fronts. Soaring gas prices could harm the Obama campaign and put Romney in the Oval Office. However, would a Romney presidency really improve our gasoline problems? Off-shore drilling could lead to a short-term decrease in gas prices, but at what costs? The millions spent on hybrid vehicle subsidies could be used for funding different programs. While gas prices may be high and rising, I would urge the American people to stave off falling to rash judgment. An extra cent at the pump today is a small price to pay for clean air and hybrid energy later. 

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Michael Crovetto

Member of Cornell's Roosevelt Institute Chapter

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