One of the reasons I was impressed by Obama was his reaction, during the campaign, when Clinton signed on to McCain's moronic proposal for a federal gas tax "holiday," as a reaction to higher gas prices. Obama took the politically more challenging course. He showed some leadership and pointed out that holiday would have little or no effect on pump prices, cost the government money which would lead to cutting construction jobs, and opposed it.
Obama was right. At the time, Krugman, a Clinton supporter, analyzed it this way:
Why doesn't cutting the gas tax this summer make sense? It's Econ 101 tax incidence theory: if the supply of a good is more or less unresponsive to the price, the price to consumers will always rise until the quantity demanded falls to match the quantity supplied. Cut taxes, and all that happens is that the pretax price rises by the same amount. The McCain gas tax plan is a giveaway to oil companies, disguised as a gift to consumers.
What happened to that guy?
Now Obama's doing the pandering. And, in doing so, he is reinforcing Republican talking points that are divorced from reality. From the NYTimes:
President Obama, facing voter anger over high gasoline prices and complaints from Republicans and business leaders that his policies are restricting the development of domestic energy resources, announced on Saturday that he was taking several steps to speed oil and gas drilling on public lands and waters.
It was at least a partial concession to his critics, who say he has shackled domestic energy development at a time when consumers are paying near-record prices at the gas pump.
We can "Drill baby, Drill!" as much as we want and dispense with, ignore, or weaken environmental protections for our public lands and it won't make a difference to gas prices. The basic reason is related to what Krugman said about the gas tax holiday: gas prices are set by supply and demand. An increase in domestic production will have negligible effect on supply -- nearly the same as an increase in production in Outer Nowhere, and therefore make virtually no difference to the price anyone pays at the pump.
It is environmental and public policy idiocy. The best policy for energy independence is higher prices not lower. The best policy to lower gas prices is energy conservation.
These policy changes do nothing positive and reinforce that the Republican view of the world is right and that environmentalists are crazies. And they make constructive policies more difficult to implement.