From 1985 to 2005, the price of crude oil averaged $33 per barrel in today's dollars. It has averaged $85 per barrel since President Obama took office. Americans consume about 19 million barrels of oil every day. The difference between the two prices amounts to a $980 million daily loss by American consumers. That's $360 billion per year and $1.7 trillion since Mr. Obama took office.
The Obama administration seems to favor high petroleum prices. It promotes alternative energy sources that cannot compete with lower-priced oil. An argument is made that alternative energy sources are needed to combat carbon dioxide emissions that might warm the planet. But this argument makes little sense when China's coal consumption is 3.6 billion tons per year and growing rapidly while the United States consumes only 1 billion tons. High-priced oil will not cut total emissions, but lower-priced oil would promote the economic growth needed to solve future problems.
Although high prices have promoted an increase in domestic oil production, two-thirds of our spending on petroleum still goes to foreign producers. This amounts to $400 billion per year under Mr. Obama, more than twice the annual loss we experienced during the 20-year period of economic growth that began with President Reagan and led to a balanced federal budget under President Clinton.