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Shoe's On Other Foot: Now Republicans Blaming Democrats For High Gas Prices

WHITE PLAINS (CBSNewYork) -- The last time gas topped $4 a gallon was during the last presidential election. And now the Republicans are blaming the Democrats instead of visa versa.

But are there any solutions? CBS 2's Marcia Kramer has the politics at the pump.

Oil prices are sitting at a 9 month high after Iran announced it is cutting off crude oil to Britain and France in retaliation for nuclear sanctions. But some are blaming President Barack Obama for the sky-high gas prices, claiming he wants to help enforce the "use-less gas lifestyle" he wants Americans to adopt.

"We should make gas prices go up as high as they are in Europe and this way people will use less gasoline. That's the mentality of the Obama administration. Now in Europe prices are at $7 to $9 a gallon, well, the president's on his way there," Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm said.


"No smart politician wants high gas prices," Sen. Charles Schumer said in response. "If the Saudis were to say tomorrow that for every barrel of oil the Iranians stop we will produce a new one, we the Saudis, the price of oil would go down $10 to $15."

But New York's senior senator stopped short of saying just how President Obama should twist the arms of the Saudis.

"Friendly persuasion," Schumer said. "It ought to tell the Saudis, 'You know, we're trying to keep Iran in line by squeezing them economically,' but they ought to pump more oil so the price doesn't go up."

Added New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: "In this difficult economy New Yorkers can't continue to bear more pain at the pump. For the short term, we must work with our allies in the Middle East to increase oil production and tap the strategic petroleum reserve if necessary. Part of the longer term solution must be continuing to invest in renewable energy sources to decrease our dependency on foreign oil and increasing the fuel efficiency of cars on the road."

Pump prices hit an all-time high in New York City -- $4.41 a gallon -- during the last presidential election. Only then, it was then-candidate Obama attacking then-President George W. Bush.

"At a time when oil companies are posting record profits consumers are paying $4 a gallon. That is wrong," Obama said back on April 1, 2008.

There are other ideas about what to do.

"I think we that we should be looking at a very simple model. If you drill it in America, you keep it in America," New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez said.

Menendez said don't sell oil produced in America abroad. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said we need to go on a gasoline diet.

"We need to move for energy independence by being more efficient in transportation high speed rail, the standards for car efficiency," Maloney said. "We also need energy independence in our lifestyles."

"I don't believe that we should be punishing the American people right now with these gas prices just because the president believes they should be doing it a different way. To me that's anti-American," rep. Grimm said.

Right now there's a lot of finger pointing and shouting, but the pressure will really mount for some action here at the pump the closer we get to the November elections.

The average gas price reached $3.87 in New York City on Tuesday, $3.86 in Connecticut and $3.51 in New Jersey.

And it's not even summer yet -- the usual time consumers can expect this sort of thing.

Gas prices have been steadily increasing for 13 straight weeks. Many places here are above $4. That magic number is enough to make pulling into a gas station painful.

Drivers are reeling from a sudden spike in gas prices are now being warned to brace themselves because it's going to get much worse.

"I think they're ridiculous. I just came from Connecticut. There it's $3.89, here $4.49 along the highway. It seems like it's getting out of hand right now," driver Tom Salierno told CBS 2's Kathryn Brown.

One Citgo station along the Hutchinson Parkway is charging $4.49 for a gallon of regular gas. That has drivers watching their consumption.

"Hopefully enough to get me to a gas station where they're a little cheaper, on Long Island," said driver Michael Cacciola.

Just a few miles away, gas was still above the $4 mark, but much cheaper: $4.09.

Lhadi Alrefai, the manager of a Mobil station in Schylerville of the Bronx, explains the prices this way: As oil prices rise, wholesalers jack up their prices. Today, that's $3.40 to the supplier. Then there's 65 cents in state and federal taxes. That leaves just pennies in profit for Alrefai.

"Let's say you get $20, which is almost 5 gallons," said Alrefai. "You get less than a dollar [in profit]. Way less than a dollar."

New York and Connecticut have the highest gas taxes in the country. New Jersey has some of the lowest -- taxes there are about half what they are in New York.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau With Calls To Cap The Gas Tax There


Gas prices are going up alright. But if you're buying gas in Connecticut you'll really feel the pinch.

In the Nutmeg State, there are two taxes on gasoline at the pump. One of them -- the gross receipts tax -- rises and falls with the price of gas.

Now that gas prices are on the rise, this tax has gone up at an astounding rate.

"Believe it or not, for the first six months of this current fiscal year, the collections of that tax are higher than the previous year, by 41.4 percent," Connecticut State Sen. Len Suzio said Tuesday.

Suzio said he wants to cap the gas tax in his state.

He said if they don't, gas could soon hit $4.50 or $5 and in Connecticut, they could be paying about 80 cents a gallon at the pump on gas taxes alone.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. ...

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