Cheap talk dep’t

No, Mr. President, wishing for oil prices to come down isn’t really the same as acting to reduce oil prices.

In addition to his weblog, which focuses on business, Peter Cohan keeps an email list for some of his political views.

With Peter’s permission, I repost below the full text of his latest missive:

In October 1974, President Gerald Ford decided that the way to defeat the then prevailing 7% inflation rate was to go on television and ask the American public to wear “Whip Inflation Now” (WIN) buttons.

Today, our 43rd President joined in that great tradition — sending his spokesman to tell the media that “we want to continue to see oil prices come down and gas prices come down so that they are more affordable for the American people.”

After watching the President’s recent hand-holding stroll through the bluebonnets with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, which accounts for 20% of US oil imports and 95% of the 9/11 hijackers, today’s statement leaves a bit to be desired.

How serious can the President be when his corporate campaign contributors are so heavily tilted towards energy and defense? As I noted on Wall $treet Week a few weeks ago, these companies have enjoyed a 101% increase in their stock prices during the President’s tenure while the S&P 500 has tumbled 13%.

To get lower oil and gas prices, the President will need to come up with something a bit better than coupling campaign- contributor-friendly policies with a WIN-redux campaign.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: