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Former White House spokesman warns oil prices may 'jack up' after election

RAW STORY
Published: Thursday November 2, 2006

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A former White House spokesman warns that oil prices may be "jacked up" by the Saudis and U.S. oil company executives after the election, RAW STORY has learned.

In an op-ed published in Thursday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Democratic strategist Robert Weiner writes, "Enjoy the price of gasoline now, because when the Saudis lower production, we could go right back to the $3 nightmare of three months ago."

Weiner formerly served as public affairs director for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Clinton and as spokesman for the U.S. House Government Operations Committee.

Weiner's Washington issue strategies group issued a press release trumpeting the column, which was co-written by Richard Bangs, a senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates.

"Gas prices that have plummeted 80 cents in the past three months are helping the economy, but the cost could shoot right back up when the Saudis lower production after the election," the press release states.

Weiner and Bangs base their conclusion in part on comments that Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward made on CBS's 60 Minutes two years ago, while promoting his book, Plan of Attack. They state in their op-ed, "Something Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward said two years ago while prices were going higher sends chills: 'They could go down very quickly. That's the Saudis' pledge.' According to Woodward, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, 'told President Bush that the Saudis would cut oil prices to ensure a strong economy for Election Day.'"

"This prediction has come to fruition," Weiner and Bangs conclude.

According to the strategists, U.S. oil company CEOs "possess the power to allow the price drops we've seen that may be timed for the election.

"They have enough room to play including last year's collective $200 billion in record profits and Exxon Mobil's own near record $20.6 billion profits this past quarter," the op-ed continues.

Excerpts from op-ed:

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Oil industry executives are particularly afraid of Congressman Charles Rangel chairing the Ways and Means Committee. Rangel could ask: Why do oil companies that generate record profits from American consumers receive $7.2 billion in government subsidies? Why was U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R- Texas, then Republican House Leader, allowed to hold open a five-minute floor vote for 48 minutes until some 2.6 billion dollars in tax breaks for the major oil companies were approved by two votes? Just this week we learned of the Administration's refusal to pursue hundreds of millions in fees for offshore drilling why?

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An "improved" economy is a political boon to incumbent legislators. The Dow Jones high has appeared when gas prices on average dropped nearly 80 cents. It's as though the U.S. doesn't want to know why the prices are declining; we're just too happy about it to care.

The U.S. could again be frustrated when the Saudis and oil executives close the spigot after the upcoming elections. Maybe then we'll want to know why the gas prices arbitrarily fluctuate.

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FULL COLUMN AT THIS LINK