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Rising gas prices give Republicans new tool to hammer Obama (+video)

An improving US economy undermined Republicans' election-year argument that Obama's policies are a drag on the recovery. But with gas prices 10 percent higher than a year ago, the GOP has a new weapon in its arsenal.

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Rising gasoline prices represent Republicans’ latest vector of attack on President Obama, as improving economic data make more difficult a head-on assault on the administration’s economic policies.

“Over the past few weeks, the American people have begun to feel the painful effects of President Obama’s energy policy,” Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday in a statement. “Make no mistake: The rising price of gasoline isn’t simply the result of forces we can’t control.”

The national average for US gasoline prices reached $3.72 on Monday, according to the Energy Information Administration, up more than 3 percent from the prior week and up about 10 percent from a year ago.

What could Mr. Obama do to help, according to GOP leaders? At the top of their agenda is reversing his permit denial for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, a 1,660-mile system that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands to the American Gulf Coast. Other Republican complaints include the need to drill more aggressively in the Gulf of Mexico and to nix regulatory red tape.

But such energy projects would take years to produce any actual oil or gasoline. How would they give Americans relief at the pump in the short term? 

House Speaker John Boehner argued Tuesday that a US energy policy that includes a more vigorous approach to production would signal a serious US intent to become more energy independent and, thus, would help drive prices down for consumers.

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