President Barack Obama held a town hall meeting Wednesday at a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Fairless Hills, Penn., to promote his energy agenda. Not everyone in the audience was receptive to his message.
When one man failed to clap as Obama talked about government forcing higher fuel efficiency standards (which, contrary to the president, did not reduce U.S. oil imports a single drop), Obama teased him: "If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting eight miles a gallon — [laughter] — you may have a big family. ... How many you have? Ten kids, you say? [Laughter.] Well, you definitely need a hybrid van then."
In fact, there are no family-size hybrid minivans on sale now, and any that come on line in the near future will likely cost somewhere north of $30,000. We doubt that a family of 12, or even an average family of four, has that much money just lying around to invest in Obama’s dreams. But we’ve seen this Obama many times before.
Instead of understanding the challenges facing his fellow Americans, and working to lower their energy costs, Obama lectures them about the alleged errors of their ways and tells them how they should spend their hard-earned money. The Fairless Hills exchange was an illustration of the professional politician who thinks he’s the boss, when in fact he is supposed to be the elected servant.
"There is no magic formula to driving gas prices down," the president also said Wednesday. Maybe not, but Obama has figured out a pretty good formula for driving gas prices up. Immediately after taking office in 2009, his interior secretary, Ken Salazar, cancelled 77 previously approved leases for oil and gas development in Utah. In February 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency mandated that consumers buy 36 billion gallons worth of renewable fuels such as ethanol by 2020. By July 2010, the White House banned drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The ban has since been lifted, but only half a dozen permits have been issued despite hundreds of pending applications. Now the Energy Information Administration projects a 13 percent decline in offshore oil production this year.
Obama has also banned offshore oil development outside the gulf for seven years. Salazar has promulgated new rules making it more costly and difficult to develop energy resources on federal land, and the EPA — while slowing development of a cross-country pipeline that would expand U.S. access to Canadian oil — is moving forward with a cap-and-trade energy tax program that Congress rejected in 2010.
What Obama didn’t say to the man with 10 kids was what he said in a January 2008 interview, that under his administration, "electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." And he said nothing about his energy secretary, Steven Chu, who told the Wall Street Journal that "somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." At the time, gas was selling there for $10 a gallon.
That’s two campaign promises Obama is well on his way to keeping.