Record-High Gas And Diesel Prices Haunt Biden, Democrats
DEMOCRATS CAN’T ESCAPE GAS PRICE TROUBLE: The price of gas in the U.S. broke another record again this morning, threatening to further imperil Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
The national average cost per gallon climbed to $4.37 on Tuesday, according to AAA, a 17-cent spike from the previous week. [bold, links added]
That’s a new record nominal high, although prices would have to rise to about $5.50 to match the inflation-adjusted high of mid-2008.
Driver frustration over record-high gas prices heading into summer is exactly the problem that President Joe Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill have tried to address by various means over the past few months.
To that end, Biden has called on U.S. oil and gas producers to ramp up production, announced the release of 180 million barrels of oil from the U.S. emergency stockpile—the largest one-time release since its creation in 1974—and sought to characterize the high prices as an extension of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, referring to the soaring costs on multiple occasions as “Putin’s price hike.”
The administration also announced last month that it will resume lease sales for oil and gas on federal land (although it has taken pains to make clear it only did so because of a court order), sparking immediate criticism from some environmental groups.
The Biden team also has steered clear of the pro-fossil fuel moves the industry and Republicans have called for, saying that prices are instead driven by global factors.
“It’s simply not true that my administration or policies are holding back domestic energy production. That’s simply not true,” Biden said in March.
RISING PRICES ARE A MAJOR PROBLEM FOR DEMOCRATS: Voters have repeatedly ranked inflation as the top problem facing the U.S., as well as Biden’s top problem politically.
The percentage of Americans who viewed inflation as the top economic problem facing the U.S. more than doubled between January and March, a Gallup poll found, rising from 8% in January to 17% in March.
Inflation was ranked in that survey as the second-worst problem facing the country overall, falling slightly behind “the government, poor leadership.”
A CNN poll released last week found that most Americans now have a dismal view of the economy, with just 23% of respondents rating economic conditions in the country as “somewhat good.”
That’s a steep decline from the 37% of voters who said the same in December, and from last April when 54% had a positive view of the economy.
Eight in 10 voters also said the government is not doing enough to combat inflation, according to the CNN survey.
Energy prices were up about a third over the past year in March, helping drive overall inflation to the highest rate since the 1980s, 8.5%, according to the Consumer Price Index.
The CPI for April will be released tomorrow morning and is sure to add to the president’s woes.
THE BLAME GAME: Biden, aware of the danger, delivered remarks on inflation rates in the U.S. as this newsletter was being written trying to place blame on Republicans, saying they have no plan.
Democrats in the House and Senate have also sought to cast blame on the oil and gas industry as a means of limiting political liability.
Last month, the House Energy and Commerce Committee summoned executives from six of the nation’s largest oil and gas companies, including BP America, Chevron, and ExxonMobil, to testify at a hearing titled, “Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America’s Pain at the Pump.”
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