What are the policy and political implications of declining gasoline prices?
The national average price for a gallon of gasoline has been steadily dropping from a high of $3.90 in April to $3.68 last week. Throughout the first part of the year, as prices were rising, congressional Republicans and conservative interest groups were blaming President Obama for the pain at the pump, and polling showed that Obama was taking the brunt of voters' disgruntlement. Indeed, the president focused many of his speeches and trips around the country, such as his controversial visit to Oklahoma, on touting domestic oil and natural-gas production.
With prices now dropping, Obama has shifted his focus to clean energy. But congressional Republicans remain undeterred: They continue to lambast the president for what they say is a war on fossil fuels, and they point out that gasoline prices are still significantly higher than they were when Obama took office.
How will lower gasoline prices affect the presidential and congressional elections? Will cheaper gas enable Congress to act on a range of energy policies, such as extending expiring tax credits for wind or domestic oil and natural-gas drilling? Or will the urgency for Washington to act on energy policy diminish as prices retreat?