By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 14 (IANS) US President Barack Obama is asking auto-loving Americans to use public transportation more as the fact that Indians and Chinese are buying more cars would push oil prices higher.
"Because one of the things, obviously, that we have to recognise is, is that no matter what we do, oil prices are going to be going up over the long term," he said choosing his first visit to recession-hit Buffalo in upstate New York to plug for public transportation.
"I mean, year to year, they may vary. Sometimes it's four bucks a gallon at the pump, sometimes it drops back down to two-and-a-half," he said at a rally in Buffalo Thursday. "The mass transit system would be good for the environment too."
The new grouse about Indians pushing up gas prices comes on top of his much publicised rhetoric in May last year when he announced that US companies that outsource jobs from "Buffalo to Bangalore" would lose their tax incentives.
"You're not always clear what's going on, but the long-term trend is just because countries like China - they're starting to buy cars and countries like India are starting to buy cars, and so the demand on petroleum and fossil fuels are going to be greater and greater," Obama said.
"We've got to get a first-class transit system," he told auto-loving Americans, who have 950 cars per thousand people as against 8.5 per thousand for Indians.
"We don't have one right now. We used to be at the top. Now you've got China - they're building multiple high-speed rail lines all across the country, leaving us behind," Obama said. "But it's not just transit. It's our ports, our airports, our sewer systems, our water systems."
"We're going to figure out how do we make those kinds of long-term investments, but do so in a way that doesn't increase our deficit, and that's going to be a challenge, but I think it's going to be a priority," the president said.
Economists might have used "all kinds of fancy formulae and mathematical equations" to declare recession has ended," Obama said. "But if you're still looking for a job out there, it's still a recession. If you can't pay your bills or your mortgage, it's still a recession."