Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stung by gas prices, Obama seeks new oil market crackdown

(Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama, whose political fortunes are threatened by rising gasoline prices, proposed new measures on Tuesday to reduce oil market manipulation that are unlikely to get support from a divided Congress.

Obama called on lawmakers to raise civil and criminal penalties on individuals and companies involved in manipulative practices.

He also pressed for more money to fund the agency charged with policing the markets to hire "more cops" for oversight and upgrade old technology.

Republicans, who blame Obama's energy policies for high gasoline prices, called the effort a political gimmick.

"We can't afford a situation where speculators artificially manipulate markets by buying up oil, creating the perception of a shortage, and driving prices higher, only to flip the oil for a quick profit," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

"We should strengthen protections for American consumers, not gut them," he said. Read More