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Higher Gas Prices Coming Thanks To Bush
By Sean Callaghan

President Bush would have us believe that rising--rocketing would be more like it--gas prices are due to an economic upturn. Certainly Bush and his rich oil buddies are experiencing an upturn. Texas-based Exxon, for instance, has experienced a $3.8 billion increase in revenues, up from $63.8 billion to $67.6 billion. (Reuters, 29 Apr 04)

I suspect, however, that like me, most of you are too busy emptying your wallets into the gas pump to notice any upturn. Like Bush's so-called tax cut for the middle class, it's all being funneled back into the pockets of the very rich. Besides, we had an actual economic upturn under Clinton, and it didn't cause a spike in gas prices.

Just in case you're not buying the economic upturn, Bush would rather have you believe that gas prices are due to Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) underproduction. This will be handy for him later when he "persuades" OPEC to increase production. Nice try, but OPEC is already producing 2 million barrels a day over its official limits, so any "increase" won't amount to much more than a declaration suitable for propaganda purposes. As the Oil minister of Qatar (one of those nice Arab countries that let us launch the first Gulf War from their soil), "The increase in prices is due to political, psychological and other factors but has no relation to oil supplies [or] global markets." (Reuters, 14 May 04)

In fact, the only thing pushing oil prices high enough to effectively reroute the so-called middle-class tax cut right back up the economic ladder where Bush and his oil cronies think it belongs is that he has to continue shipping oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The reason he has to do this is because his private war in Iraq has led to an increased likelihood of terrorist attacks on our oil supply.

While most analysts seem to agree that stopping shipments to the SPR would, in itself, only lower gas prices by around 3 to 5 cents a gallon-and after all, doesn't the oil industry need that 3 to 5 cents more than we do? The policy message that stopping shipments would send to commodities traders would cause a much more dramatic decrease, according to William E. Greehey, chairman and chief executive of Valero Energy Corp. An oil and gas analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. points out that Bush could even have continued to fill the SPR without spiking gas prices if he hadn't been so busy screaming that he had to because of all the "scary terrorists". (Jon Meade Huntsman, founder of Huntsman Co., the largest privately held chemicals maker raises the added point that Bush's pro-monopoly stance on oil merger's isn't helping any, either). (Washington Post, 18 May 04)

You have to admire Bush's efficiency. In one fell swoop, he creates the impression (among the gullible, at least) that he is the only thing between us and hordes of terrorists, repays the big oil companies for getting him not-really-elected with money from our pockets, and, coincidentally, helps Osama and al Qaeda (You probably don't remember who they are, Bush is spending a lot of money on this mess in Iraq to make you forget) hit ordinary Americans where it really hurts, in our already nearly empty pocketbooks. It might be a little hard to understand why Bush would be so helpful to the very terrorists he's supposed to be protecting us against, but, after all, it did take al Qaeda to make him popular in the first place.

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