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West Wing Mindmeld: Just Write About Obama’s Speech, Don’t Ask Us If It Will Actually Do

RNC Communications - April 17, 2012

Obama White House Won’t Speculate Whether Today’s Announcement Will Actually Impact Gas Prices

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CBS’s Norah O’Donnell: “With this new action, how much do you think it will decrease the price of gas at the pump?”

National Economic Council Deputy Director Brian Deese: “So as you know, and as all of you know, the President, as part of his all of the above energy strategy, has said we need to be doing everything that we can to try to increase domestic production, reduce our dependence on imported oil and protect consumers. He’s also said there is no single silver bullet. And so, you know, I’m not going to speculate on this provision or any other provision and the specific impact that it would have on prices at the pump but what I would say at a time when you’ve seen trading activity increase by 30 percent, when you’ve seen prices increase and you’ve seen uncertainty in these markets increase, that is the most important time to be doing everything you can to have cops on the beat in those markets, to have tools and resources that regulators need, to make sure that there isn’t manipulative activity going on.”

(White House Press Briefing,  Washington, D.C. 4/17/12)  

Obama White House Can’t Cite Example Of Oil Market Manipulation

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CBS’s Norah O’Donnell: “Final question. So, do you have any evidence of market manipulation and is there currently not an avenue in the U.S. government to prosecute people who are engaged in market manipulation?”

National Economic Council Deputy Director Brian Deese: “Sure. So on the first, there’s a component of the first question that is really an enforcement question. And obviously the Department of Justice and the CFTC may be in a better position to answer questions about specific enforcement actions. I would say that if you look over the past year, the CFTC has opened cases against potential energy firms for potential manipulation. The FTC has an open investigation into potential anti-competitive behavior by oil refiners and so we are actively as an administration deploying the tools at our disposal to try to identify those instances. But to your second point about whether we have the capacity within the government, we are much better positioned today to address these issues than we were before the President took office, because we’ve closed some of these loopholes. We’ve brought trading out of the shadows. But the truth is that, at a moment when our regulatory agencies are already being asked to take on substantial responsibilities in implementing Wall Street reform, when you’ve seen the recent increases in trading activity and volatility, they need more resources in order to do an effective job on behalf of the American people. So, the increase in resources to put these additional personnel on oversight and enforcement and the increased resources for technology are really aimed at making sure that we, as a federal government, have those tools and have those resources to do the best job we can.”

 (White House Press Briefing,., Washington, D.C., 4/17/12)

CNN Asks If There’s Illegal Activity In Oil Markets, Why Hasn’t Already Formed Obama Task Force Acted?

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CNN’s Jessica Yellin: “Following up on Norah’s last question, Brian, the few times you’ve mentioned illegal activities, it was a year ago that the president asked for the Department of Justice and CFTC to formalize this task force. At the time, Holder said if illegal conduct is responsible, federal and state authorities should take swift action. The commissioner at CFTC said, we need to use the tools Congress gave us to stop excessive speculation, we need to do it now. I’ve called both places, they--I’ve not heard back from the CFTC and Justice cannot point us to any action that’s been taken to date against any specific illegal actor. This entire move by the White house today is premised on the assumption that there is illegal action. So what concrete evidence can you point to, to suggest this isn’t just optics?”

National Economic Council Deputy Director Brian Deese: “So I’d say a couple of things, the first again, again, if you--as I just stated earlier, in 2011, the CFTC filed a civil complaint against several oil companies for potential manipulative activity. Likewise the CFTC has an open investigation into anti-competitive behavior. But I think that there’s a broader issue, which, at stake here…”

(White House Press Briefing, Washington, D.C., 4/17/12)

NPR Asks If There’s Any Concern That Obama Looks “Ineffective” On Gas Prices

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NPR’s Mara Liasson: “The President talks about this a lot, whether it’s manipulation or oil prices or energy exploration, and I’m just wondering if you think there’s a danger that, as people see him talking about this a lot that they also see the price at the pump not changing and continuing to go up, if they will think he’s ineffective?”

National Economic Council Deputy Director Brian Deese: “Well I will um, since I am the economic policy guy I will leave the sort of question of the political perceptions of the President aside.”

(White House Press Briefing, Washington, D.C., 4/17/12) 


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