Obama, GOP addresses focus on gas prices, again

A sign shows gas prices nearing $5 a gallon for regular unleaded at a Shell service station on March 5, 2012 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

(CBS News) In the weekly video addresses, the topic once again is the rising cost of gas prices.

In this campaign year, President Obama and Republican Rep. Cory Gardner used the weekly messages to frame the debate around higher prices at the pump. (To watch the president's address click on the video player above.)

The president said some of the reasons are out of his control, including instability in the Middle East and increased demand in growing economies in India and China. He said what he can attempt to control is market speculation, which he says is another reason for rising prices.

"For years, traders at financial firms were able to game the energy markets, distort the price of oil, and make big profits for themselves at your expense," Mr. Obama said. "And they were able to do all that because of major gaps and loopholes in our regulations."

He said his administration is tamping down weak regulations and improving oversight, and he called on Congress to go further by eliminating $4 billion of taxpayer subsidies for oil companies.

"We're going to put every single Member of Congress on record: They can either stand up for oil companies, or they can stand up for the American people," he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gardner of Colorado, who is a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said the reason for the rise in gas prices is the president's economic policies and over-regulation.

"After spending money we don't have on what won't work and overregulating what would, is it any wonder gas prices have more than doubled on the president's watch?" Rep. Gardner asked. (Watch video by clicking on the video player above.)

After blaming the president, Gardner said Washington must "remove costly artificial barriers" that prohibit American energy production, including the construction of the XL Keystone pipeline and increased offshore drilling.

"The longer we let politicians like President Obama continue to block responsible American energy production, the longer our nation will continue to suffer with high gas prices and limited energy security," Gardner said.

A CBS News/NY Times poll released this week shows that 54 percent of Americans think the president can "do a lot" to control gas prices. The same poll shows that his approval rating dropped from 50 percent to 41 percent during February.

Gas prices have jumped 51 cents since the beginning of the year.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.