Obama calls on Congress to help police oil markets

President Barack Obama, flanked by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, left, and Attorney General Eric Holder, speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, about a plan to increase oversight and crack down on manipulation in oil markets. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Updated: 12:39 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama pushed Congress Tuesday to give oil market regulators more muscle to deter price manipulation by speculators, the latest White House response to determined Republican attacks on administration energy policies amid high gas prices at the pump.

Obama wants Congress to strengthen federal supervision of oil markets, increase penalties for market manipulation and empower regulators to increase the amount of money energy traders are required to put behind their transactions.

"We can't afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions while millions of American families get the short end of the stick," Obama said at the White House.

Will President Obama's oil plan work?

The plan is more likely to draw sharp election-year distinctions with Republicans than have an immediate effect on prices at the pump. The measures seek to boost spending for Wall Street enforcement at a time when congressional Republicans are seeking to limit the reach of federal financial regulations.

The president's $52 million proposal comes as Republicans have been hammering Obama on his energy policies, recognizing the political cost of high gas prices on the president. Obama's plan would turn the tables on Republicans by taking aim at Wall Street's role in the oil price chain.

Obama was joined during his Rose Garden remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

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