In a Rose Garden speech aimed at critics who blame him for high gasoline prices, President Obama announced a crackdown on oil-market trading that most analysts say has only a minor impact on prices at the pump.
The president acknowledged as much while calling for action by Congress and his own administration to ensure that speculators aren’t driving up the prices for oil futures on the commodity markets.
“I think everybody understands there are no quick fixes to this problem,” he said, noting that the biggest factor in high oil prices is the fact that the United States uses 20 percent of the world’s proven petroleum resources while controlling just 2 percent of the supply at home.
But, Obama added, “We can’t afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions, while millions of American families get the short end of the stick.”
The White House plan proposes a six-fold increase in funding for surveillance and enforcement staff for oil-futures trading—a bill that has little chance of passage in the hyper-partisan Congress. The administration also seeks increased funding to strengthen monitoring of electronic trading in energy markets, increased civil penalties for manipulation in key energy markets, higher margin requirements in oil-futures markets, and expanded access to data to better understand trading trends in oil markets.