The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Campaigning for office, President Obama promised to do something about high gas prices, but now he is denying he can do much about what Americans pay to drive. He is too modest! In September 2008, Steven Chu said to The Wall Street Journal "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," and Barack Obama picked him for Secretary of Energy.
That money would be spent in the U.S. on cement, steel, engineering services and the like, and boost GDP by $250 billion. It would create about 2.5 million jobs and lower unemployment to less than 7%. Instead, the President says he needs to raise taxes on oil companies so that he can increase investments in solar and wind power. The basic supposition is the private sector, which already benefits from numerous tax breaks to develop and sell alternative technologies, has not exploited all commercially sound opportunities. Yet, given billions to invest directly, the best Secretary Chu could do was plow money into Solyndra and about a dozen other projects independent Wall Street investment analysts advised would be "C"-rated if offered in the bond market. A "C" rating is assigned to companies with a 70% chance of default. Thanks to generous tax breaks, the private sector has already overinvested in solar, wind and other alternative energy resources, while it is barred from adequately investing in oil production -- even with tax breaks to Big Oil Mr. Obama loves to rail against. As important, the recent problems of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan ( NSANY) Leaf indicate the difficulties of switching to wholly electric cars. More efficient internal combustion engines like those being rolled out by Ford Motor Co. ( FM) and Mazda, and hybrids, which also use gas but just more efficiently, are where drivers will be for a long time. 7 Companies That Keep on Growing For the present, the question is: Do Americans produce oil at home, where environmental risks can be effectively managed, or do they import oil from developing countries, where those risks may not be so effectively contained? By choosing to keep and manage the risks at home, Americans can fire up growth and get unemployment closer to acceptable levels.