Gas prices nearing $4 a gallon could slow recovery, undercut Obama’s re-election prospects
WASHINGTON (AP) — Soaring gasoline prices are threatening to undercut President Barack Obama’s re-election prospects and offering Republicans an easy target. With prices pushing $4 a gallon and threatening to go even higher, Obama sought Thursday to confront rising public anxiety and strike back at his GOP critics.
“Only in politics do people root for bad news, do they greet bad news so enthusiastically,” Obama said of Republicans. “You pay more; they’re licking their chops.”
Obama said dismissively that all the Republicans can talk about is more drilling — “a bumper sticker ... a strategy to get politicians through an election” — when the nation’s energy challenges demand much more. In a speech in Miami, he promoted the expansion of domestic oil and gas exploration but also the development of new forms of energy.
For all the political claims, economists say there’s not much a president of either party can do about gasoline prices. Certainly not in the short term. But it’s clear that people are concerned — a new Associated Press-GfK poll says seven in 10 find the issue deeply important — so it’s sure to be a political issue through the summer.
“Right now, we’re experiencing yet another painful reminder of why developing new energy is so critical to our future,” the president said. At an average of $3.58 a gallon, prices are already up 25 cents since Jan. 1, and experts say they could reach a record $4.25 a gallon by Memorial Day.
Poll: Millionaire tax popular, but people prefer spending cuts over tax hikes to cut deficits
WASHINGTON (AP) — Most people like President Barack Obama’s proposal to make millionaires pay a significant share of their incomes in taxes. Yet they’d still rather cut spending than boost taxes to balance the federal budget, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows, giving Republicans an edge over Democrats in their core ideological dispute over the nation’s fiscal ills.
The survey suggests that while Obama’s election-year tax plan targeting people making at least $1 million a year has won broad support, it has done little to shift people’s basic views in the long-running partisan war over how best to tame budget deficits that lately have exceeded $1 trillion annually.
“Everybody should be called to sacrifice. They should be in the pot with the rest of us,” Mike Whittles, 62, a Republican and retired police officer from Point Pleasant, N.J., said of his support for Obama’s tax proposal for the wealthy. But Whittles said he still prefers cutting government spending over raising taxes because of federal waste and what he calls “too many rules, too many regulations.”
Sixty-five percent of the people in the AP-GfK poll favor Obama’s plan to require people making $1 million or more pay taxes equal to at least 30 percent of their income. Just 26 percent opposed Obama’s idea.
Yet by 56 percent to 31 percent, more embraced cuts in government services than higher taxes as the best medicine for the budget, according to the survey, which was conducted Feb. 16 to 20. That response has changed only modestly since it was first asked in the AP-GfK poll last March. The question on Obama’s tax on the rich was not asked previously.
MILFORD, Mich. (AP) — One day after a feisty debate, Mitt Romney criticized Republican rival Rick Santorum and courted tea party voters Thursday in a pair of primary states separated by nearly 2,000 miles.
“I appreciate the work you’re doing. I appreciate your willingness to get out of your homes,” he told an audience of tea party members in suburban Detroit, an appearance designed to let him reach out to a part of the electorate that tends to favor his campaign rivals over him.
Romney drew applause when he attacked President Barack Obama as uninformed about the workings of the American economy and called him “a man comfortable living with trillion-dollar deficits.”
But he largely sidestepped when asked how he could be able to counter Obama in a debate in the fall campaign if the president brought up similarities between the health care law Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts and the health care overhaul passed by Congress that Republican contenders have vowed to repeal.
That was an evident reference to a requirement for individuals to purchase coverage — at the heart of both laws — but Romney’s answer omitted that topic. Instead, he said, “The first thing I’d say to him is, ‘You say you copied (the Massachusetts law), how come you didn’t give me a call? I’d have told you what worked what did not work.”’