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Gas Prices Are Falling, But Not Because the President Waved a Magic Wand

Gas prices are falling because the president finally decided to let them fall.

Gas prices are falling because the president finally decided (along with his backup singers, the Gas Hike Trio) that he would acknowledge the common man's strife.


I'm kidding. While gas prices have been lower, it has little to do with the president—and Mitt Romney wouldn't be able to make them any lower, either. But that doesn't mean people will quit talking about a president making gas cheaper.

"Politicians don't like to admit they don't have control over everything," says Daniel Weiss, an energy expert at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a non-partisan advocacy group that favors a clean-energy agenda.

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There are some policies that would increase gas prices, like raising the gas tax (Imagine! Somebody advocating for taxes in order to pay for stuff that I can't build myself!), but if gas prices are a thing that people use to measure a president, wouldn't a president keep prices low if he or she could? What would the value be to the president in keeping them high? Or do people who think the president controls gas prices generally feel that President Bill Clinton was the best president in the last century? The next head of state, President George W. Bush, didn't manage to keep pump prices down, despite a lot of promises.

One other thing—and this is sort of my response to drill-baby-drill/fill-baby-fill—I think energy independence is a great idea. But I think the way that we should achieve it is by relying way less on gas. Why? In addition to the environmental reasons, energy independence doesn't mean much for gas prices. Just ask our neighbors to the north.

There is a global market for oil. That means there is basically one price, whether you are a net exporter (Canada) or the world's biggest importer (the U.S.).

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Gas prices are a terrible scorecard. Please stop watching them as an indication of how presidents are doing. There are probably other things you can use to make your decision. Somewhere. I don't know, maybe a quiz?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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