Despite swaths of pushback on President Joe Biden’s proposed gas tax holiday from Democrats and friendly media outlets, some journalists at CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and CBS are now hyping the proposal, claiming the president finally has an opportunity to ease Americans’ pain at the pump. [bold, links added]
On Thursday, several journalists and guests across the media broke rank from their colleagues and touted the three-month tax suspension as a positive development for those looking to catch a break on gas prices.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” was one of several shows defending the president, taking the opportunity to criticize Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who called the idea “silly.”
Both Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough quickly pushed past the fact that the idea received a lukewarm reaction from many Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
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“He wants to cut taxes on fuel prices when people are suffering, why is that a silly idea?” Scarborough asked.
“You can’t just like criticize everything,” Brzezinski said.
Scarborough said Biden wants to give Americans “some money back” at the pump and suggested that McConnell believes it is silly to “help working-class Americans.”
He repeated that Biden was set on helping middle-class Americans twice more before Brzezinski asked if Republicans had any solutions themselves.
“In the words of Alfie Solomons, no-no-no,” Scarborough replied, giving his best Peaky Blinders impersonation.
CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O’Keefe similarly appeared to side with the president when he reported that Democrats doubt the federal tax holiday would help Americans who “could really use it.”
“You’d think lawmakers would want to help Americans save a little gas money, especially this close to midterm elections, but both Democrats and Republicans, throwing up some roadblocks,” O’Keefe added.
ABC News correspondent Brad Mielke called the gas tax proposal by Biden a “no-brainer” and said he was confused to see politicians from both sides of the aisle push back on the idea.
“Why would it be difficult to get a consensus? Because drivers—I mean this sounds great,” Mielke said, as the rest of the panel laughed. Moments later he questioned what kind of voter “is not going to love this [proposal].”
There is currently an 18.4 cents-a-gallon tax on gas and a 24.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on diesel fuel. If the gas savings were fully passed onto consumers, which is unlikely, people would save around 3.6% at the pump should gas prices continue to average $5 a gallon in the U.S.
Biden’s push faces uphill odds in Congress, which must act in order to suspend the tax, and where many lawmakers, including some in his own party, have expressed reservations. Even many economists view the idea of a gas tax holiday with skepticism.
Administration officials said the $10 billion cost of the gas tax holiday would be paid for and the Highway Trust Fund kept whole, even though the gas taxes make up a substantial source of revenue for the fund.
The idea has long been criticized by politicians, including former President Barack Obama, who in 2008 as a White House candidate called the idea a “gimmick.”
While some journalists and guests of the media are now propping up Biden’s attempt to make any dent in soaring gas prices, the media has long claimed that the president has no effect on what Americans pay to fill their tanks.
In April, CNBC senior Washington correspondent Eamon Javers said on MSNBC’s “Hallie Jackson Reports” that the Biden administration does not have a “dial” to turn down the rising cost of gasoline, or other products impacted by inflation.
“There’s no dial in the Oval Office that turns inflation up or turns it down, right? So Joe Biden, as [he’s] sitting there at the White House, doesn’t have a lot of really great options,” Javers said.
Just days earlier, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said: “No policymaker has a dial that you can just turn up or down that you can just control things like oil prices and gas price. Look, folks are impatient, folks are looking for solutions. We get that.”
On Sunday, Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampbell appeared to echo the words of Javers and Buttigieg.
“The president does not have some super-secret special dial on his desk that can adjust gas prices, but many voters believe otherwise,” she wrote.
In November, CNN featured a prime example of the media’s mixed messages on whether a president has any agency when it comes to altering gas prices.
At the time, CNN Business senior writer Julia Horowitz wrote an article titled, “Why Joe Biden can’t do much to ease gas prices,” and claimed in the piece that the Biden administration’s ability to leverage the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would do little to impact gas prices.
A week later, the same writer touted a small slip in the price of gas, urging readers in the headline to “Thank China and Joe Biden.”
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