Obama pledges oil trade crack-down

City A.M. Reporter
US President Barack Obama, whose political fortunes are threatened by rising gasoline prices, proposed new measures yesterday 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.

“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 at the White House.

“We should strengthen protections for American consumers, not gut them,” he said.

Republicans called the effort a political gimmick, and said the new measures would not help Americans struggling with high fuel prices.