Really, the only surprise is that consumers came before Obama in the headline — because Obama came before the economy in the underlying article.
A late-day dispatch from Jonathan Fahey and Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press even found someone to say that history will be on Obama’s side if gas prices fall to below $3.50 a gallon or so by Labor Day. Excerpts follow (bolds are mine):
A threat that’s been hanging over the economy is starting to look a lot less menacing.
Oil and gasoline prices are sinking, giving relief to businesses and consumers who a few weeks ago seemed about to face the highest fuel prices ever.
President Barack Obama’s re-election prospects could also benefit, especially if prices keep falling as some analysts expect. A majority of Americans disapproved of Obama’s handling of gas prices in an AP-GfK poll early this month. But that was before the full effect of the recent drop had reached drivers.
… The economy could gain, too. Consumers who spend less on fuel have more to spend on other purchases, from autos and furniture to appliances and vacations, that could help drive economic output and job growth.
The price drop will likely boost consumer confidence. It also comes at a timely moment: Ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, a busy one for travel and entertainment spending.
… The average national gasoline price is expected to fall as low as $3.50 a gallon this summer. It could even dip near $3 in some states.
… “People were prepared emotionally for $4.50 or $5 gasoline, so there’s a sense of relief,” (chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service Tom) Kloza says.
… And Obama can look forward to further help this fall. After Labor Day, refiners can begin using cheaper ingredients to make gasoline because wintertime clean air rules are less stringent. That should push gasoline prices lower between Labor Day and Election Day, barring hurricanes that can disrupt supplies or other global events, says Kloza.
“History will be working on behalf of the Democrats,” he said.
It’s as if the post-Labor Day situation with altered gasoline blends has never, ever come up before in any other presidential election year. Zheesh.
The only trouble with the AP’s take on gas prices is the reason why it now appears they will come down a bit during the summer: “expectations of lower demand as the global economy slows.” It’s as if any impact from that critical factor which might cause overall U.S. economic growth and therefore job growth to stay at their current mediocre levels won’t matter. Sure, guys.
All in all, the report comes off as the kind of piece ordered up by AP management or expected of AP writers any time a development which really is a mixed bag can be spun as good news presents itself. That seems to be the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, mission in life any more.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.