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Obama, chart in hand, presses his case on gas prices

March 01, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • President Obama holds up a chart on U.S. foreign oil consumption during a speech at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire.
President Obama holds up a chart on U.S. foreign oil consumption during… (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images )

Reporting from Nashua, N.H. —

As rising gas prices are putting pressure on politicians to act, President Obama called on Congress to vote quickly to eliminate subsidies for the oil industry, returning to a favorite target the president.

"I want them to vote on this in the next few weeks, so we can put every single member on record: You can either stand up for the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people," the president told a crowd gathered at Nashua Community College.

The president's push to eliminate the subsidies is nothing new. Obama campaigned on the issue four years ago and has proposed cutting the subsidies repeatedly in his budgets and tax proposals.

But with gas prices threatening to hit $5 a gallon, Obama has been maneuvering to shift frustration away from the White House to an industry that has proved politically advantageous for Democrats.

Just the mention of the $4 billion in subsidies awarded to oil companies each year elicited boos from the crowd.

Obama repeated his case, outlined in a speech last week, that there is "no silver bullet" to rising gas prices. He highlighted his administration's effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost development of alternative energy.

This week he introduced a new prop to illustrate his point. As Obama spoke, a chart popped up on television screens behind him. The graph showed U.S. dependence on foreign oil falling since 2005 -- from 60% of net imports to 45% in 2011.

The White House handed out copies to the crowd. Obama told them to take it home -- "it makes for a great conversation piece at parties."

"Now, one reason our dependence on foreign oil is down is because of policies put in place by our administration and my predecessor’s administration. And whoever succeeds me will have to keep it up. This won't be solved by one party or administration. It won’t be solved by slogans and phony rhetoric."

After leaving New Hampshire, Obama will travel to New York for four fundraisers for his reelection campaign, including a fundraising gala at ABC Carpet & Home hosted by Deepak Chopra, Paulette Cole, Russell Simmons, and others.

The Republican National Committee noted that the list includes Obama's 100th fundraiser since announcing he'd seek another term.

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