The wonderful but vapid presidential debate over gasoline prices

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California prices
California prices
Image: AP Photo/Noah Berger

US presidents have little impact on today’s domestic gasoline prices—that is almost wholly determined by global market conditions and players. That did not stop GOP nominee Mitt Romney from castigating President Barack Obama for high gas prices in their Oct. 16 debate. Nor did Obama attempt to dissuade Romney of the suggestion that the occupant of the White House can affect prices (presidents can affect prices in the long term). Check out the exchange here:

Romney’s contention is that if US oil production were higher, gasoline prices would be lower. If he winds the Nov. 6 election, he will make sure there is more production. The price claim is a great debate line, but is also untrue. Traders treat oil as a single great global pool, which is why a pipeline explosion in Nigeria can send up prices in Fargo, North Dakota. Look for the accusations to continue over the next 18 days.