This morning, the Washington Post reports "rising public disapproval reversing some of the gains the president had made in hypothetical general-election matchups against possible Republican rivals for the White House."
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) now both run about evenly with Obama. The findings come just five weeks after Obama appeared to be getting a boost from the improving economy.
Gas prices are a main culprit: Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they disapprove of the way the president is handling the situation at the pump, where rising prices have already hit hard. Just 26 percent approve of his work on the issue, his lowest rating in the poll. Most Americans say higher prices are already taking a toll on family finances, and nearly half say they think that prices will continue to rise, and stay high. ...WaPo
There is a disconnect here, and it's a disconnect that could cost Obama reelection. You can see it, for a start, in the comments on this Post article. Obama is to blame for the oil prices, for not drilling, and for spending too much time on alternate forms of energy. But, of course, the price of gas at the pump is not something the government -- the president or Congress -- can control.
That said, this country is producing oil, more oil, and then some -- and along with the oil, jobs.
Economists say many industries are looking up this year. But perhaps none has a better outlook than the energy sector.
New drilling technologies and rising fuel prices have generated a boom in drilling — and lots of high-paying jobs for people with the skills to work in the oil patch. On some college campuses, companies are so eager to find petroleum engineers that they are offering jobs to students even before they have graduated. ...NPR
These kids are rolling out of college and going to work at a starting salary of $78,000.
The need for young workers is especially intense now because many of the people who entered the oil business during the 1970s oil boom are retiring. At the same time, new drilling techniques are making it possible to get oil and gas from shale. That new supply is boosting demand for workers.
"If you would have told me 10 years ago that a shale would have been a gas reserve, I would have gone, 'You're crazy.' But they found a way to do it," Eustes says. "So we've got the technology improving; we've got these new reserves opening up; we've got this crew change coming up — all of these things have conspired to require people."
Jessica Lambdin is a recruiter for Encana Corp., which has traditionally been a natural-gas powerhouse. But because natural gas prices are down and oil prices are up, the company is now shifting its focus to recovering so-called unconventional oil. ...NPR
So what's with the high prices? NPR also has a graphic showing exactly who's getting each penny we pay for our gas. And hidden in the graphic is this reminder: OPEC. Because we demand more oil than we can produce, we remain subject to the price-fixing on the part of the consortium, achieved by manipulating the oil supply. Price not high enough for the big guys? They put less on the market to bring the price up. Another example of how the "free market" (never really free) becomes so unfree.