NEW YORK (
) -- President Obama would like to crack down on speculation and manipulation in the oil markets, but he doesn't talk about it often enough or have enough friends in Congress.
That leaves Obama's attack on oil speculators stuck somewhere between real policy and plain politics.
It's a safe bet that the president's wishes related to reining in the oil market speculation are doomed to join his legislative Wish List to Nowhere, alongside the
Big Oil tax break
repeal effort and the Warren Buffett "tax the rich" campaign, both recent legislative failures.
The attack on oil market manipulation is nothing new for the president, either.
In fact, this is one of the most frustrating aspects of the new focus on oil market manipulation: it was exactly
one year ago
that President Obama created a Justice Department financial task force to rein in the oil market.
Since then, nothing much has been heard from the White House or said by the president on this issue specifically.
Take it from Jim Collura, of the
New England Fuel Institute
Commodity Markets Oversight Coalition
-- who works on the oil markets speculation and manipulation issue 365 days a year -- when he says that it's been a frustrating effort. Or in other words, "It's always exciting when the president talks about this because he rarely does," Collura said.
Collura's group used more PR-friendly words in a press release applauding Obama's oil market manipulation speech on Tuesday, stating, "His [President Obama's] statements are long overdue and are encouraging, especially considering the harmful effect that unchecked financial activities have had on businesses, consumers and the broader economy."
I would emphasize the choice of the word "overdue."
"We'd written the president and urged him to step up the working group he formed, led by Attorney General Holder, but my sense is that the working group met once and was inactive after that," Collura said.
The inactivity on oil speculation and manipulation goes all the way from the White House to the primary federal agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, overseeing the self-regulated commodity exchanges.
In mid-March, a group with which Collura works representing industries -- airlines, truckers, fueling companies and petroleum marketers -- that need to hedge fuel prices for actual business reasons, sent a letter to the CFTC asking why its Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee (EEMAC) -- created by the Dodd-Frank Act, hadn't held a meeting since 2009.