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May 24th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

Dear President Obama #125: Mad Max: Beyond gasoline foam

Reporter's Note: President Obama wants advice. He said so. From normal citizens like you and me. Well, at least like you. In any event, I am complying. Every day a new letter flows from my keyboard to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

We’re taking the family on a little road trip this weekend. Elder daughter is going to a speech competition in Albany, but because she is also going to prom the night before there is no other reasonable way to get her there except by driving. (Yes, I’ve heard of trains and planes, but the schedules are impossible for this one; and a catapult seems unnecessarily risky.) Bit of a haul, but I’m always good for it. Give me a bag of Twizzlers and some Diet Dr. Pepper and I can cover half the continent before noon. Like most journalists, I have developed the ability to store sleep and artificial preservatives in my back. It presents some issues at Customs now and then, but otherwise works out fine.

While doing a pre-trip fill up, however, I took note of what is happening with gas prices again. I know you don’t drive these days, and I’m pretty sure you don’t have to handle the pump during a fuel stop, so let me just tell you: They are going up.

That sort of explains what our polling guys found as we burned into this holiday weekend: 9 out of 10 of your country’s citizens believe gas prices will go above $3 a gallon this summer; 3 out of 4 think they will go above $4; and a little bit less than a third think we could see prices above $5. (Two percent also think Nancy Pelosi is a professional golfer, but that’s a different matter.)

I long ago gave up trying to figure out when, and where, and why gas prices are going to rise or fall. I know supply and demand play a big role, but there also seems to be a pretty strong link between demand and “let’s screw some folks over this holiday.” I can see market forces at work a bit, but considering all the exceptions to the rules that come into play, I could probably draw a similar correlation between the stock market and summer storms over the Rockies.

I’m not personally complaining, mind you. If I want to save money on gas I know what I need to do: park the car, avoid long trips, and strap on the bicycling shorts; which of course brings the added benefit of having my wife remind me that from behind it looks like I am smuggling a pair of Chows in a nylon bag.

I am giving you a gentle reminder, however. Don’t forget that confidence in this economic recovery is a tender thing. Right now most people think we are heading the right direction, and they are willing and eager to help you pursue that course. But if gas prices runaway again, they could get grumpy fast.

I’m not saying you can or even should do anything about it, but being ready for the uproar is like calculating your restroom stops before you hit the road; even if you don’t need it, it’s comforting to know you have a plan.

Call if you are so inclined, but frankly I’ll be listening to the highway song and not much interested in yakking politics.

Regards,

Tom

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. ELLIOT RIEBMAN

    PRESIDENT OBAMA is doing a fine job, along with his wife Michele.
    They both give so very much,to make sure,all of the Presidents promises are fulfilled,in which they have been.President Obama,will
    go down in history,as one of the finest,well rounded,responsible,caring,humane,loyal,politically correct individuals,that entered "THE WHITE HOUSE".As a prominant
    high profile attorny,as well as Michele,they both are an asset to world peace.All of the other nations love them,and admire them,for taking a stand,to better our fine nation,as well as our foreign brothers,to make
    sure they too,live in peace and harmony.Thank you to the obamas
    for a job well done.David Gergan is also a very well rounded analyst,
    that truely knows,and says "QUOTE" THIS IS THE BEST PRESIDENT
    THAT THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER SEEN.I AGREE 100% with David Gergan,Mr. Gergan is an accomplished analyst,that happens to be of the very highest intellect.Please listen to him.He very well knows ,THE
    VERY BEST,AND THAT IS "PRESIDENT" "OBAMA".HE IS THE BEST IN THE BUISNESS,AS WELL AS HIS ENTIRE STAFF.WHEN YOU HAVE A STRONG BUILDING,DON'T KNOCK IT DOWN!NEGATIVES GET LIFE!LET THE "PRESIDENT DO WHAT HE WAS VOTED TO DO.
    "TAKE THE REIGNS"AND RUN OUR COUNTRY ,TO THE VERY
    BEST OF HIS ABILITY!THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU!
    "THE "ORIGINAL" "BIG" "E"
    "NO FAME JUST A NAME!

    May 26, 2009 at 5:20 am |
  2. Krissie in NYC

    RLWellman: When the gas prices under Bush were rising, they were over $4 a gallon. Last time I looked out my window, the station across the street says 2.49. That's quite a price change from when Bush was ripping us off with his oil cronies.

    Gas prices in general ALWAYS rise about 50 cents before the summer, as the oil companies anticipate road trips, vacations, and the like. Thus, increase in demand equals increase in price. It doesn't matter who is President, so long as Big Oil is running the show. The only way to beat the system is Mass Transit. I sold my car 5 months ago, and I haven't looked back. My wallet, my health, and the environment all thank me for it.

    May 25, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
  3. debinaz

    the price hike is due to the holiday...it should go back down unless the speculators are playing with the market again,,,,if they are someone needs to put a stop to it now.....if the cap and trade goes through, you will see your utilities nearly double...if this happens so much for the middle class....what was it that obama promised?

    May 25, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  4. RLWellman

    Last year when the gas prices started to go up, the Left said it was Bush's oil friends that were raising the prices. Now, is it Obama's oil friends that are raising the prices?

    Where is all the Stimulis Money? Who is keeping track of it? Why isn't it being reported how good or how bad the stimulis is doing?

    What happened to the good newspaper reporting. It's funny how they used to report on how many cavities a Republcan president has, now we don't even know where the Democrat president was born. There is no investigating reporting any more, just lies!

    May 24, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  5. Benny Babauta

    guess it did!!

    sorry guys....=D

    now you'll see both my points of view....

    May 24, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  6. Benny Babauta

    Hopefully the premonintions of these individuals are not true. Maybe their projecting these prices in correlation with how the economy is doing right now. I think that the gas companies need to hike up the price in order to sustain business operations.

    Nonetheless, we will all submit to the repercussions of the recession. Tsk...tsk....

    Good day all!!!

    May 24, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  7. Joanna

    This is great! I also personally believe the gas prices are all about "demand and lets screw some folks over this holiday". I have always believed that, mainly because the prices go up long before the demand. That totally negates economists' demand theory. Totally. It's all about profit – hello!! That's what capitalism is all about! Hurray! (sarcasm). The dumb part about this practice is, if I were about to take a trip and the prices went up 2-3 days before my trip, I just might think twice about travelling. Wouldn't you? Personnaly, I sure am hoping the US people will wake up soon and see how they are really being screwed over.

    May 24, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  8. Susan

    It is my understanding that oil is publically traded; therefore as our economy gets strong, gas prices will rise.

    We, us, Americans have created the demand; plain and simple. Our big SUV's, V-6 & V-8's consume large amounts of oil/gas. Until our country becomes less materialistic, we will continue to pay for those luxury items. We all have choices, that why we are Americans, choose to be more environmental and less materialistic.

    May 24, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  9. dvplanetwaves

    Well just imagine that the prices going up and up gas then cars then service and then parts and your credit card rates. When food and water and also air and not for your tiires . Just think that the clothes on your back wiill cost as much as the shoes on your feet . So i say that the bicycle and every thing plastic thats made of oil should be priced to fit the debt that your in with the 300 million others that owe to the federal treasury So good luck maybe you should walk bare foot and eat sand and live in a cave . you think ?

    May 24, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  10. Deano

    There is no reason at all for these gas prices going up. I've parked the cars, telecommute and walk everywhere.

    May 24, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  11. JOSEPH BUTTACAVOLI

    How about we keep our money and send 450 million to the shelters for homeless people, we are americans in our own homeland and we are living in shelters that's B.S. when do you stop talking to our vets and all these people about how your gonna help them and you never do. America has become a joke.

    May 24, 2009 at 7:09 am |
  12. JOSEPH BUTTACAVOLI

    Oh wait,

    Sll he did was complain about the war on his campaign trail and we haven't left yet and he always complained about the money and now we are sending another 450 million to pakistan. "WHEN DOES THE SPENDING STOP" can someone tell me.

    May 24, 2009 at 7:05 am |
  13. JOSEPH BUTTACAVOLI

    I don't know where this person feels the country is going in the right direction when unemployment is going up an up and gas prices are going up. Wake up and stop kissing this presidents but, we will be in a bigger recesion very soon. if your worried about gas don't drive. Democrat is what i was before obama took office, but now i am a republican, they just love to spend. Do you know what happens when you keep spending, someone has to pay for it and that will be us. all we need now is like what cheney said another attack and we might be done. Vote for obama again stupid.

    May 24, 2009 at 7:02 am |