Oil-Tax-Supporting Gov. Mitch Daniels Claims Obama ‘Wanted Higher Gas Prices’

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN)

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN)

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN), on Fox News Sunday yesterday, echoed comments made last week by Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, claiming that rising gas prices were an intentional part of Obama administration policy.

Daniels told Chris Wallace:

Let’s give the president credit for one domestic policy that worked. He wanted higher gas prices and he got ’em. He said it. Secretary [Steven] Chu said $8, about what they pay in Europe, would be great. Secretary [Ken] Salazar said it could go $10 and [he] still wouldn’t be for allowing drilling in the places where we know there’s an awful lot of domestic production. And so, they have gotten the doubling of gas prices — perhaps worse, is a conscious policy of this administration. Maybe the one thing they set out to do and actually accomplished.”

Watch the exchange:

Daniels did not mention that in 2010, he wanted higher gas prices himself. That year, the Center for American Progress praised Daniels for distinguishing himself from Republican fealty to big oil by supporting a tax on imported oil. The tax would have increased gasoline prices in order to increase American energy security.

Though Wallace noted that U.S. dependence on foreign oil is the lowest in 16 years, Daniels dismissed this as “no thanks to them,” crediting only the policies of the George W. Bush administration and blasting President Barack Obama for wanting “environmental regulations” that could put refiners out of business and stop the construction of new ones.

ThinkProgress researchers were unable to find any evidence that Obama has ever called for higher gas prices, although he did say in one 2008 interview that, given a choice, he would prefer a slow gas price increase to a fast one. The accusations Daniels made about Chu and Salazar involve incidents from before they were members of the administration. Chu talked in September 2008 about a gradual, 15-year increase in the gas tax to encourage efficiency and keep money in America — his idea was rejected by President Obama. Salazar never said what Daniels claimed — as a senator in 2008, Salazar was blocking a procedural gimmick by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who wanted to use gas prices to trigger unrestricted offshore drilling everywhere in the United States. Daniels’ claims totally ignored the administration’s actions and the president’s “all-of-the-above” energy plan to fight gas price spikes and reduce dependence on oil.

Daniels’ concern for only energy and construction companies, instead of the planet, is nothing new. As ThinkProgress Green reported last month, Daniels used his state taxpayer-funding to lobby for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline — even though the proposed pipeline would not run through Indiana. Even the state-paid lobbyist was unable to explain the connection. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Daniels received about $1.3 million in campaign contributions from the construction sector and more than $900,000 from the energy and natural resources industries over his career.

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