The Gasoline “Bubble”?

Since we are all trying to get to know Ricky Santorum a bit better, at least until such time as a barrage of attack ads reduce him to a whimpering wreck huddling under a stack of fetus posters, it’s worth noting he has some pretty exotic ideas outside the cultural arena. Check out these Santorum remarks from the campaign trail in Colorado the other day:

Stressing the importance for the country to provide cheap energy to its citizens, Santorum blamed the recession not on sub-prime mortgages or the derivatives market but on spiking fuel prices.

“We went into a recession in 2008. People forget why. They thought it was a housing bubble. The housing bubble was caused because of a dramatic spike in energy prices that caused the housing bubble to burst,” Santorum told the audience. “People had to pay so much money to air condition and heat their homes or pay for gasoline that they couldn’t pay their mortgage.”

Hmmm.

Now we are all used to Republican pols treating gasoline prices as some sort of ultimate, can’t miss issue that trumps everything else. And it is refreshing to find a GOP presidential candidate who isn’t explicitly or implicitly claiming our economic problems were caused by hordes of shiftless poor and minority folk who conspired with ACORN and Freddie and Fannie to take out mortgages that had no intention of paying. But the idea that gasoline and home heating costs caused the whole mess is a new one to me, and probably to every economist in the country as well.

The only good thing about Ricky’s monomaniacal focus on gas prices is that in the very unlikely event he becomes our president, perhaps he would think twice about engaging in another Persian Gulf War virtually guaranteed to roil petroleum markets. There’s not a whole lot else in his world-view that would give him a moment’s hesitation.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.