Political Footballs

With a presidential election year upon us, we’re in store for some heavyweight political debates in the coming months. Once the Republican presidential nominee is decided, the GOP candidate and President Obama will surely have a lot to discuss publicly in anticipation of the November general election.

In fact, there are already several political footballs being thrown on the field ready for someone to pick up and run with.

There’s the federally mandated health care coverage which requires employers (including religious organizations) to provide insurance for products and services (including contraception). Many people (particularly right-wing, conservative Republicans) are taking exception to the mandate, which they claim violates religious liberties. That’s a good political football.

Then there is the oil and gas industry boom. After suffering through the worst economic quagmire since the Great Depression, America’s resilience has threatened to bounce back in a big way, thanks to the oil and gas industry and new wave of hydraulic fracturing of deep shale reserves. Farmers and owners of large tracts of property are being made instant millionaires overnight, on a daily basis. But wait – an effort is afoot to slow down these new ventures because of the “unknown risks to the environment” (even though fracking has been taking place in the U.S. for more than 50 years) and because water used in the process is being pumped back into the ground and may be contributing to more frequent earthquakes in the Eastern United States.

Radical environmentalists (and other left-wing Democrats) have taken a much more cautious approach to what promises to be the economic salvation of the century. Republicans have blasted the Obama administration for blocking the Keystone XL Pipeline into Canada, which was expected to create tens of thousands of jobs and help broaden the growing U.S. oil and gas industry’s global economic impact.

There’s no doubt that the oil and gas boom is having a positive impact on the U.S. economy.

It along with a number of other factors are helping to finally turn the economy around.

But as we slowly move toward the general election, yet another factor has the potential to undo the economic recovery and become one of the biggest political footballs of all gas creeping toward the $4 mark and threatening to peak near $5 this summer.

It will be interesting to see how motorists’ pain at the pump will influence their picks at the polls.