| April 18, 2012

Enough is enough

President Obama announced this week that he plans to use the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to increase oversight and government regulation of oil futures markets. To put that another way, if you thought the free enterprise system was struggling under this president’s policies, you might say that today he put the free market in a chokehold. His five-part plan would increase the CFTC staff, spend more money on monitoring technology, increase penalties for violators, allow the CFTC to actually direct margin requirements, and allow for the release of sensitive data.

Let me get this straight. After years of failed policies and political games, Mr. Obama is doubling down on more regulation, bigger government, and increased spending?

To what end? The Obama administration cannot even connect real numbers to their claims that these measures will lower prices at the pump.

On a White House-organized conference call to preview the announcement, senior administration officials refused to say how much improper or illegal manipulation added to the per-gallon price at the pump or when, if at all, Americans could start seeing the policy reduce the cost of filling up. "You won't find the administration making projections about the particular impact, or the particular price impact, of any particular policy," one official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "We would leave that to outside analysts to disentangle."

Ignore unrest in the Middle East, disregard growing demand in places like China and India, and forget for a moment that market forces are actually pulling down gas prices already. Try also to forget that the increased oil production for which Mr. Obama likes to claim credit actually has nothing to do with him. As I recently pointed out,

Obama says that U.S. oil and natural gas production is up, but the truth is that most of the increase relates to leasing and permitting decisions made before he took office. In fact, combined oil and gas production from all federal areas (land and water) – where the administration actually has control – was down in 2011 compared with 2009, according to Energy Information Administration data. Recent increases in U.S. oil and natural gas production – up almost 29 percent for oil and 22 percent for natural gas – have materialized only because of growing production on state and private lands. This is an important distinction because it shows just how harmful the federal government’s policies are in areas where they have a say.

If you can successfully ignore, disregard, and forget the all the facts (is that what he means by an “all-of-the-above strategy”), you might be able to convince yourself that turning over more of our economy to the government makes sense. If you choose to remain with the rest of us in the real economy, you will see that America’s oil producers are succeeding in spite of the ridiculous limitations placed on them by ever-increasing regulation and unprecedented government roadblocks. If the president truly wants to see this economy recover, why does he continue to wage war against the oil and gas sector – one of the few bright spots left?

Stating there were “no quick fixes to this problem," Mr. Obama said today that the government must "work extra hard to protect consumers from factors that should not affect the price of a barrel of oil. That includes doing everything we can to ensure that an irresponsible few aren't able to hurt consumers by illegally manipulating or rigging energy markets for their own gain." Mr. President, it appears that with your refusal to listen to anyone in the industry about responsible energy policy that benefits all Americans, the irresponsible few are actually in your administration, and that you are the one manipulating and rigging for your own gain – at the ballot box.

Loading Next