How politicians get mileage from gas prices

If there is one constant in American politics it is this: the price of gasoline is one of the most potent of all political issues.

When we fill 'er up, the price stares us in the face right there on the gas gauge.

Gas prices hinge on many factors, some of which Presidents can influence, some of which they can't - China's gigantic need for more and more oil, turmoil in the Middle East, even the weather to name three the president can't control.

Never the less, every candidate running for president blames the previous president if gas prices have gone up. Candidate Obama blamed George Bush, just as Republicans are now blaming President Obama.

Which is why I found a story in yesterday's New York Times so interesting. Russia is a different place, but the story reminded us just how different.

To get elected, Russia's newly-installed President Vladimir Putin made a lot of expensive campaign promises - big raises and fatter pensions for doctors, lawyers and the military, even bonuses for having more children.

We know about campaign promises. But here's what's different: Russia gets half its revenue from taxes on oil and gas.

What Putin didn't tell the people is that to pay for all his promises, he has to drive the price of oil UP, to $150 dollars a barrel - that's thirty dollars more than the current price.

Which made me wonder: If energy prices go DOWN in Russia, will the next Russian candidate blame President Putin?

Now there's a bumper sticker to think about.

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.


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