WASHINGTON, D.C. (MCT) — As he continues to get heat for high gas prices, President Barack Obama tried to shift the focus to Congress on Tuesday when he called on lawmakers to pass legislation he said would crack down on manipulation in the oil market.
In brief remarks in the Rose Garden, Obama called on Congress to boost funding for regulators and increase penalties for market manipulators.
“We still need to work extra hard to protect consumers from factors that should not affect the price of a barrel of oil, and that includes doing everything we can to ensure that an irresponsible few aren’t able to hurt consumers by illegally manipulating or rigging the energy markets for their own gain,” Obama said.
Republicans jumped on the president’s announcement to accuse the president of turning to gimmicks to deflect political pressure. Analysts largely attribute the rise in the price of oil to unrest in the Middle East and economic growth, not market manipulation.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., dismissed the proposal as a political ploy.
“If I were to guess, I’d say today’s proposal by the president probably polls pretty well. But I guarantee you it won’t do a thing to lower the price of gas at the pump,” McConnell said.