COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu uttered the kind of Washington gaffe that consists of telling the truth when inconvenient. According to Politico, Chu admitted to a House committee that the administration is not interested in lowering gas prices.
Chu, along with the Obama administration, regards the spike in gas prices as a feature rather than a bug. High gas prices provide an incentive for alternate energy technology, a priority for the White House, and a decrease in reliance on oil for energy.
The Heritage Foundation points out that hammering the American consumer with high gas prices to make electric and hybrid cars more appealing is consistent with Obama administration policy and Chu’s philosophy. That explains the refusal to allow the building of the Keystone XL pipeline and to allow drilling in wide areas of the U.S. and offshore areas.
The consequences of the policy are not likely to be of benefit to the Obama administration. The Republican National Committee has already issued a video highlighting the spike in gas prices and the failure of the administration to address the issue.
Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has issued a half-hour video touting an energy plan he claims would result in $2.50 a gallon gasoline. The plan is based on unfettered drilling for oil and gas instead of a reliance on green energy. Gingrich has also savaged Obama’s touting of algae based biofuel as “weird.”
Chu has likely highlighted an issue Republicans are going to pick up and run with. Americans are not going to be appreciative of schemes to hit them in the wallet so the American economy can shift to green energy. Besides American traditional adherence to the free market, the idea of being fleeced by a deliberate government policy is likely to be greeted with anger.
Add into the mix green energy fiascos like Solyndra, and Chu might well have kindled a full blown scandal.
How the Obama administration reacts to the expected firestorm is open to question. Green energy is as part of its fundamental religion as is universal health care, another unpopular Obama policy. If it tries to bull ahead, the electorate will likely punish Obama and the Democrats. If it tries to backtrack, Obama looks weak and facilitating, and likely will still not appease gas strapped Americans experiencing price shock at the gas pump.