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  #1  
Old 10-17-2012, 07:25 AM
Shakes Shakes is online now
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Why do politicians insist they (or the President) can control gas prices?

Because they can't; can they?

Is there some sort of Risk vs. Reward factor going on here?

In my layman mind, this seems like a monkey BOTH sides would like off their back.

So why do they continue to debate it?
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2012, 07:31 AM
HumanBear HumanBear is offline
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What makes you think they can't? Certainly here in the UK a large amount of the cost of petrol is tax. Lower taxes, as controlled by the government, would reduce the price at the pump.

I'm not saying it should be done, but it could be done.
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  #3  
Old 10-17-2012, 07:40 AM
Shakes Shakes is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HumanBear View Post
What makes you think they can't? Certainly here in the UK a large amount of the cost of petrol is tax. Lower taxes, as controlled by the government, would reduce the price at the pump.

I'm not saying it should be done, but it could be done.

In the US, the gas tax is only around $0.18 per gallon.

Our politicians are trying to claim they can bring it down way lower than that.

We had one dolt actually try to tell us he could bring gas down to $2 a gallon. (Nobody bought his BS, but he did try to sell us that line.)

Last edited by Shakes; 10-17-2012 at 07:40 AM..
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  #4  
Old 10-17-2012, 07:46 AM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is offline
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Also, if I recall correctly, the Feds have control over something called the Strategic Oil Reserve, which they can threaten to use to increase supply (which should decrease price).

Now, we know that would never happen, but very few politicians win elections by telling the complete truth. And voters are more than willing to believe that the Gummint is keeping prices high, so their favoured candidate will work against those establishment bad guys and perform magic.
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  #5  
Old 10-17-2012, 07:48 AM
zoid zoid is offline
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Politicians as a whole could probably bring down gas prices if they really wanted to and were willing to ignore all the possible harmful consequences. For instance if we were to drill anywhere we could get a good return in terms of oil production we could significantly ramp up today's domestic output - but at what cost? Many of us feel protecting the environment should be a big part in factoring that decision.

The President on his own however doesn't have the power to make those decisions. To imply a President can do it on his own without support is just silly.
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  #6  
Old 10-17-2012, 08:58 AM
BwanaBob BwanaBob is offline
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Unless the goverment is going to put forth a bill that any oil extracted in US territory can only be processed in US refineries for US consumption, then any calls for "drill baby drill" and the like are stupid. Oil is currently fungible and is sold to the highest bidder. We could have 800 billion barrels of oil reserves ready to go and still we wouldn't be "energy independent". Not under the current rules and regulations.

I wish someone from the press would jump up and point this out anytime any politician mentions the term "energy independence".
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  #7  
Old 10-17-2012, 09:18 AM
Grey Grey is offline
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I think it's typically opposition politicians that make this claim. Mainly in an effort to make the incumbent look bad.
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  #8  
Old 10-17-2012, 09:32 AM
XT XT is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakes
In the US, the gas tax is only around $0.18 per gallon.
That's just the Federal tax...state taxes vary, but I seem to recall it is an additional (on average) of something like $.20-.30/gallon, and in some states like CA it's much, much higher. Not that the president has any control over either the Federal OR State taxes, mind.

The answer to the question in your OP is that public perception is that the President can do something about it (that the President is responsible for everything in fact), and there is no real point in the politicians trying to educate the public on this so they pretty much have to deal with it. If you are a President and the economy is booming and gas prices are low then you are going to get credit for that and the other guy will have to shift his attacks to something else (most likely something else that the President doesn't have much real world control over), while if you are President and the economy sucks and/or gas prices are perceived to be high then it's open season. Because that comes with the job.
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  #9  
Old 10-17-2012, 10:11 AM
leahcim leahcim is offline
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W (et al.) managed to bring oil prices below $2. All you have to do is crash the economy so bad that demand for gas falls appreciably. (Arguably the government doesn't have that much control over the economy either, but I'm sure they can find a way to crash it).

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoid View Post
Politicians as a whole could probably bring down gas prices if they really wanted to and were willing to ignore all the possible harmful consequences. For instance if we were to drill anywhere we could get a good return in terms of oil production we could significantly ramp up today's domestic output - but at what cost?
Even ignoring environmental concerns, I doubt this is true, at least if you intend oil extraction to be profitable. A number of sites can produce significant amounts of oil, but extraction costs are so high that it only makes sense to go there if oil costs more that $100/barrel. Extracting enough oil out of these sites to drive the cost of oil down below that will never happen without government coercion to do so, because extraction is not profitable at that price level.

That's part of the reason why half of onshore oil leases are unused.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BwanaBob
Unless the goverment is going to put forth a bill that any oil extracted in US territory can only be processed in US refineries for US consumption, then any calls for "drill baby drill" and the like are stupid.
Even such a regulation won't help unless you can somehow get enough domestic extraction to cover domestic demand completely. Otherwise you just have a bunch of oil on the market labelled "must sell in U.S." which gets sold at market prices along with additional imported oil needed to fill the demand gap.

Only countries that produce more oil than their domestic demand can see effect from a rule like this, because they are by regulation increasing the supply in the domestic market beyond what it would naturally be.
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:12 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakes View Post
We had one dolt actually try to tell us he could bring gas down to $2 a gallon. (Nobody bought his BS, but he did try to sell us that line.)
That was Gingrich. I think almost everyone went on that. But keep in mind that he is famous for making outrageous predictions like that. I'm not sure that many other politicians fall into the category you are staking out in your OP. I think it's more common that they blame the opposition for higher gas prices without actually promising to lower them. But I could be wrong...
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  #11  
Old 10-17-2012, 11:19 AM
Great Antibob Great Antibob is offline
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Michelle Bachmann made the claim during her Presidential run and blamed current prices on Obama by comparing prices when he was elected/inaugurated, i.e. at the trough of the downturn, with more current prices.

With the exception of her most ardent Tea Party supporters, nobody bought it.

Don't know if Gingrich also made a similar claim, but it wouldn't surprise me.
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  #12  
Old 10-17-2012, 11:30 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Modding

Moved to Elections from Great Debates.
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  #13  
Old 10-17-2012, 11:32 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Great Antibob View Post
Don't know if Gingrich also made a similar claim, but it wouldn't surprise me.
He did.
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  #14  
Old 10-17-2012, 11:41 AM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is offline
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Politicians trying to win this year's election are not worried about the long-term memories of next year's election, or next term. Its going to be a fact that if the gas is high, the incumbent party will say the President can't change it, and the out of power party will say this can. Vice versa if the gas is low
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  #15  
Old 10-17-2012, 11:45 AM
leahcim leahcim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Great Antibob View Post
Michelle Bachmann made the claim during her Presidential run and blamed current prices on Obama by comparing prices when he was elected/inaugurated, i.e. at the trough of the downturn, with more current prices.
I remember similar claims made about the stock market just after the 2008 election, just using the date that Obama won his first democratic primary or something like that as the start date so she could get the talking point that the stock market has dropped 50+% since "Obama entered the public eye" or something like that. Like traders saw a long-shot nominee for the democratic candidate get a small amount of traction and immediately started selling off US equities in anticipation, while the banking crisis happened at the same time as a pure coincidence that would have been inconsequential otherwise.
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  #16  
Old 10-17-2012, 11:57 AM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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They only make this claim when it is politically convenient.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzEnK...e_gdata_player
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  #17  
Old 10-17-2012, 12:24 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
To be fair, under a Gingrich administration, gas would still cost more than $2.50 a gallon for the residents of the 51st state. The transportation charges to get gas to those Americans would be fairly steep.
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  #18  
Old 10-17-2012, 10:45 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Ask yourself, "what do people want to hear?"

Make a list.

Then match that list to what politicians, especially non-incumbent politicians, say.

I guarantee you will find matches for every item on your list.

It doesn't matter if people say they see through it. Like negative campaigning, politicians do it for the simplest of all reasons: it works. That's the secret to all advertising, marketing, promotion, scamming, conning, and campaigning. Look at what people respond to, not what they say. Then do it, no matter what you are called in the process.

It's always, always, always, always about the consumer. Since people are consumers, they like to forget that. Those on the other side of the fence never do.
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  #19  
Old 10-18-2012, 03:35 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HumanBear View Post
What makes you think they can't? Certainly here in the UK a large amount of the cost of petrol is tax. Lower taxes, as controlled by the government, would reduce the price at the pump.

I'm not saying it should be done, but it could be done.
The price at the pump is determined by supply and demand, not the cost of providing the product, of which taxes is a part. If you lower the cost of production (or tax) without increasing the supply, then a lower price just results in increased demand, creating a shortage, which causes the price to move back up to the previous level which is where the demand met the supply. The supplier gets all the savings as increased profit, and the consumer spends the same.

Now if the ability to sell at a higher price causes the supplier to increase production, then THAT will move the price downward. That can't work in the US, because the supply is currently limited by refinery capacity.

In 2008 all the presidential hopefuls were advocating gas tax reductions due to high prices, except for Barack "We tried that in Illinois, it don't work" Obama. His 2004 convention speech convinced me he should run the country, but this willingness to defy pop-logic sealed the deal for me.
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  #20  
Old 10-18-2012, 03:45 PM
Kolak of Twilo Kolak of Twilo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakes View Post
Because they can't; can they?

Is there some sort of Risk vs. Reward factor going on here?

In my layman mind, this seems like a monkey BOTH sides would like off their back.

So why do they continue to debate it?
The main reason is because the people who do engage in this sort of rhetoric are more interested in pandering to voters and saying things they think will get them votes. They have little interest in telling the truth.
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  #21  
Old 10-20-2012, 08:36 AM
Son of a Rich Son of a Rich is offline
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What I don't understand is how Bachmann and Gingrich can claim to be able to drop gas prices down so far and no one presses them for any kind of particulars on just how they would do that. That's "lame stream" journalism right there.
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