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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42699556/ns/politics-decision_2012/

LOS ANGELES — President Barack Obama said Thursday that the Justice Department will try to "root out" cases of fraud or manipulation in oil markets, even as Attorney General Eric Holder suggested a variety of legal reasons may be behind gasoline's surge to $4 a gallon.

"We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain," Obama said at a town-hall style meeting at a renewable energy plant in Reno, Nev.

The town hall was sandwiched in between Obama's four fundraising events in California on Thursday — one in San Francisco and three in Los Angeles. The president was holding six fundraisers over the course of his three-day West Coast trip, aimed at high-dollar donors and young people, both of whom will be integral to a campaign that could set fundraising records.

Obama says new task force will examine gas prices Obama says new task force will examine gas prices "This is going to just as hard, if not harder, than 2008," he said of his re-election bid during a small fundraiser at Sony Pictures Studios.

Probing traders and speculators
With the 2012 campaign in mind, the White House is anxious to show the public it's taking action to address rising gasoline prices. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.84 on Thursday, about 30 cents higher than a month ago and almost a dollar higher than a year ago.

Obama, decrying such levels as yet another hardship "at a time when things were already pretty tough," said Holder was forming the Financial Fraud Enforcement Working Group.

The task force will focus some of its investigation on "the role of traders and speculators" in the oil-price surge, Obama said, and will include several Cabinet department officials, federal regulators and the National Association of Attorneys General.

Washington, Holder said he would press ahead with the investigation, even though he did not cite any current evidence of intentional manipulation of oil and gas prices or fraud.

"Based upon our work and research to date, it is evident that there are regional differences in gasoline prices, as well as differences in the statutory and other legal tools at the government's disposal," Holder said in a memo accompanying a statement announcing the task force. "It is also clear that there are lawful reasons for increases in gas prices, given supply and demand."

Story: Obama mixing politics and policy on West Coast
"Nonetheless, where consumers are harmed by unlawful conduct that has the effect of increasing gas prices, state and federal authorities will take swift action," Holder said.

He promised to "be vigilant in monitoring the oil and gas markets for any wrongdoing so that consumers can be confident they are not paying higher prices as a result of illegal activity."

There's not much Obama can do to affect the price of gasoline in short term, something he acknowledged in his remarks. Gas prices have risen steadily as a result of tensions in the Middle East and northern Africa and rising demand from China and other emerging economies.

Given that no evidence has yet surfaced of actual fraud or price manipulation in oil markets, Obama's remarks appeared, at least in part, as more of an attempt to assuage public anger over rising gas prices.

Other presidents have also launched similar inquiries at times of rising oil prices and widespread public suspicions of market manipulation by the oil industry or by speculators.

In an Associated Press-Gfk poll last month, 51 percent of adults said they thought recent increases in gas prices were due to "oil companies that want to boost profits" rather than changes in the global oil market. Nine percent said higher prices stemmed from a combination of both, 37 percent from changes in the market.

Story: Obama's pulpit is bully, but GOP keeps charging
Obama renewed his proposal to end roughly $4 billion annually in various government subsidies to oil and gas companies "at a time when they're making record profits and you're paying near record prices at the pump. It has to stop."

Asked by a member of the audience about prospects for advancements in clean energy, Obama predicted that, with time, prices of now-expensive devices such as electric cars would come down.

"Having a flat-screen TV used to be a big deal," Obama said. But he said now such TVs are commonplace because prices have dropped so much.

While acknowledging he doesn't spend much time these days behind the wheel, Obama said, "I've been in one of these Chevy Volts. This is a nice car. It drives well."

Advertise | AdChoicesAdvertise | AdChoicesAdvertise | AdChoicesHe said when such vehicles become more affordable, "those of you out there driving that 8-mile-a-gallon SUV" should consider a purchase. Otherwise, by buying gasoline that likely came from imported oil, Americans "are putting money in the pockets of people who do not like us at all," he said.

Change 'tougher than expected'
Before the Reno event Thursday, Obama told supporters in San Francisco that he was pressing ahead with his agenda in a difficult political environment and that "change turned out to be a lot tougher than expected."

Obama addressed about 200 people who paid up to $35,800 apiece for the fundraiser at San Francisco's St. Regis Hotel, the first of four for the day.

Protesters at Obama fundraiser: "Free Bradley Manning"
Obama was interrupted by a small group among the paying guests who protested the detention of Bradley Manning, an Army private accused of leaking secret documents to the WikiLeaks website.

"We paid our dues, where's our change?" the protesters sang to the president.

"We'll vote for you in 2012, yes that's true. Look at the Republicans — what else can we do?"

Obama paused while security removed some of the protesters, then joked, "That's a nice song. You guys have much better voices than I do."

Manning, suspected of illegally passing U.S. government secrets to the WikiLeaks while serving as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, was transferred this week to an Army prison in Kansas from the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia, where he has spent the last nine months.

:rolleyes:
 

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It's all he knows to do.
1. Make a public announcenment how he's going to help everyone.
2. Accomplish nothing.

We're being screwed by our government and OPEC (and speculators) but he wants to investigate the mom and pop gas stations. :crazy: More "Look over here, while we **** you over here."

Snake Oil

High gas prices will do nothing but move more of our money to OPEC, raise consumer prices (more inflation), and kill any economic recovery we may see.....ALL what Obama wants.
 

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I wonder how long it will take for Holder to arrest Salazaar?
 

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I just wonder how long they can keep throwing matches until this powder keg lights off..
Methinks that's what it's all about...won't be long now.
 

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This will go nowhere. It is simply political posturing. Any article you read about the possible causes of the run-up makes it clear that there is a fuzzy line between "normal" speculation and "extreme" speculation. If you can't even define it, you damn sure can't prosecute it.
Also, it's a little hypocritical since Obama has made it clear for years that he believes fuel needs to be significantly higher in cost so that people will be more open to alternative energy sources. He's just pissed that the windfall is going to private companies instead of the government through artificially higher gasoline taxes.
 

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This will go nowhere. It is simply political posturing. Any article you read about the possible causes of the run-up makes it clear that there is a fuzzy line between "normal" speculation and "extreme" speculation. If you can't even define it, you damn sure can't prosecute it.
Also, it's a little hypocritical since Obama has made it clear for years that he believes fuel needs to be significantly higher in cost so that people will be more open to alternative energy sources. He's just pissed that the windfall is going to private companies instead of the government through artificially higher gasoline taxes.
:agree:..sort of. Those compaies are public companies, and they are international companies. I think the 'pissed' is more of a show for the 'useful idiots'. It's an attempt to show he's 'on top' of the situation so his fan base doesn't become alienated...like Lady GaGa, he needs to come out with a new hit every once in a while.
 

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Pay no attention

Obama never follows through with any of his promises

Expect less from him during his second term if he is re-elected

I don't know if we can afford less = Obama

Also Obama can somewhat deliver a speech

But, He's truly a bad negotiator, which means that he is not very good with people and understands little about other cultures around the world

Not good if your president :nuts:
 

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I think the 'pissed' is more of a show for the 'useful idiots'. It's an attempt to show he's 'on top' of the situation so his fan base doesn't become alienated...like Lady GaGa, he needs to come out with a new hit every once in a while.
:agree::thumbsup:
 

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just bend over he is full of **** he doesn't care just like all the rest of the DC assholes. They all live in a fairy tale. Til we get someone in the office who really can relate to the average guy nothing will change. They all lie to our faces they all are millionaires. they just don't care about us under 100K it doesnt relate to them. Just try taking something from them like higher costs for there Pensions they got it made serve 4 years and retire on us for the rest of their lives. Just try that in the real world. They get handed every privledge in the world and want more. But want us to pay the piper. If it was my finanacial budget guess what every Tom Dick and Harry would be putting leans on everything i own. Wake up go after the dead beat asshole would don't pay their taxes either payup or get out. I bet you could reduce the deficit a whole bunch just by that. Enough said vote them all out
 

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What do you think of this:

Owe thousands in back taxes and need to get out of the country? No problem. Under current law, the State Department can't withhold a passport over unpaid taxes.

But that could change, if lawmakers decide to run with the findings of a new government report that suggests Uncle Sam could recoup billions by blocking delinquent Americans from getting passports until they settle their debts to the IRS.

The Government Accountability Office, at the request of Congress, released a study Monday examining how the government could leverage the passport process to recover unpaid taxes. The office found that in fiscal 2008, Americans who received passports owed a collective $5.8 billion to the IRS. The debt of the internationally traveling public, though, is likely far larger, considering that estimate only factored in a year's worth of recipients.

The GAO report projected that linking passports and tax obligations could lead to a windfall for the IRS, if Congress opts to draft legislation making that possible.

"The federal government has a vital interest in efficiently and effectively collecting the billions of dollars of taxes owed under current law," the report said. "Such legislation could have the potential to help generate substantial collections of known unpaid federal taxes and increase tax compliance for tens of millions of Americans holding passports."

It's not clear whether Congress wants to go down that road. The study was apparently conducted at the request of Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Representatives for the senators did not return requests for comment.

The GAO said that if Congress wants to extract tax debt with the help of the State Department, it would have to authorize State to deny passports on that criteria and authorize the IRS to share its tax data. The GAO also suggested determining whether some individuals should be exempted for "national security purposes" and setting a threshold for when a tax debt would be high enough to trigger the denial of a passport.

After all, plenty of travelers likely owe a modest amount of back taxes without even realizing it -- the GAO report also showed that only a small percentage of those who received passports in 2008 were delinquent.

The report suggested privacy issues would have to be dealt with if Congress pursues the change.

But the office pointed out that U.S. law already allows the State Department to deny passports for other reasons -- ranging from an applicant owing more than $2,500 in child support to having an outstanding felony warrant.

The GAO report examined a handful of severe cases where individuals received passports despite owing money to the U.S. government. In one case, an individual identified as a "gambler" owed nearly $47 million, despite filing tax returns claiming no outstanding balance with the IRS.

Another individual owed $40 million and did not file a personal income tax return for four years.

"IRS officials stated that screening passport applicants for federal tax debts would likely improve tax collections," the GAO report said.
 

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What do you think of this:

Owe thousands in back taxes and need to get out of the country? No problem. Under current law, the State Department can't withhold a passport over unpaid taxes.

But that could change, if lawmakers decide to run with the findings of a new government report that suggests Uncle Sam could recoup billions by blocking delinquent Americans from getting passports until they settle their debts to the IRS.

The Government Accountability Office, at the request of Congress, released a study Monday examining how the government could leverage the passport process to recover unpaid taxes. The office found that in fiscal 2008, Americans who received passports owed a collective $5.8 billion to the IRS. The debt of the internationally traveling public, though, is likely far larger, considering that estimate only factored in a year's worth of recipients.

The GAO report projected that linking passports and tax obligations could lead to a windfall for the IRS, if Congress opts to draft legislation making that possible.

"The federal government has a vital interest in efficiently and effectively collecting the billions of dollars of taxes owed under current law," the report said. "Such legislation could have the potential to help generate substantial collections of known unpaid federal taxes and increase tax compliance for tens of millions of Americans holding passports."

It's not clear whether Congress wants to go down that road. The study was apparently conducted at the request of Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Representatives for the senators did not return requests for comment.

The GAO said that if Congress wants to extract tax debt with the help of the State Department, it would have to authorize State to deny passports on that criteria and authorize the IRS to share its tax data. The GAO also suggested determining whether some individuals should be exempted for "national security purposes" and setting a threshold for when a tax debt would be high enough to trigger the denial of a passport.

After all, plenty of travelers likely owe a modest amount of back taxes without even realizing it -- the GAO report also showed that only a small percentage of those who received passports in 2008 were delinquent.

The report suggested privacy issues would have to be dealt with if Congress pursues the change.

But the office pointed out that U.S. law already allows the State Department to deny passports for other reasons -- ranging from an applicant owing more than $2,500 in child support to having an outstanding felony warrant.

The GAO report examined a handful of severe cases where individuals received passports despite owing money to the U.S. government. In one case, an individual identified as a "gambler" owed nearly $47 million, despite filing tax returns claiming no outstanding balance with the IRS.

Another individual owed $40 million and did not file a personal income tax return for four years.

"IRS officials stated that screening passport applicants for federal tax debts would likely improve tax collections," the GAO report said.
I'm all for collecting the taxes owed, but let's face it. $5.8B will run the country for about 5 minutes. Collecting taxes isn't really our problem. Spending more than we can ever raise year after year is the problem.
 
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