Reviews |  Republicans, it's okay not to thank Biden for lowering gas prices

Reviews | Republicans, it’s okay not to thank Biden for lowering gas prices


After hitting $5 a gallon in June, gasoline prices fell precipitously. The national average for regular gasoline is now around $3.30, and in 13 states the average is below $3, while the national average could be by Christmas. If your car has a 15-gallon tank, that means you’ll soon only be paying $45 to fill up, instead of the $75 it cost you this summer. What a relief!

This is a political triumph for President Biden, a direct result of his actions. Even his Republican opponents are lining up to praise him for heeding their previous criticisms now that he has lowered prices at the pumps and put more money in the pockets of hard-working Americans.

Everything in the second paragraph is an invention, of course. Biden is not responsible for lowering gas prices any more than he was responsible for raising them in the first place. And Republicans are decidedly not praising him — for that or anything else.

But when prices were high, they couldn’t help but repeat that it was all Biden’s fault. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing demand for a reinvigorated economy initially drove up gas prices, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blamed the “disconnected policies” of the Democrats. “It’s intentional,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said, alleging gas prices were rising because Biden had a secret plan to “exhaust our energy independence.”

Other Republicans agreed. Some started call him “Biden’s Gasoline Hike.” Conservatives even sold stickers with a picture of Biden pointing his finger and the words “I did this!” for furious gas buyers to affix to fuel pumps.

It was all based on two ideas: one, that Biden wanted gas prices to go up, which is just plain silly (wouldn’t a sinister villain like him at least want prices to stay low to prop up his rating)? endorsement?), and second, that Biden had the power to determine those prices.

Catherine Rampell: Excited by falling gas prices? Be careful what you wish for.

In the past two years, as in previous periods of rising gas prices, fact-checkers have dutifully explained that Republican claims are false. In general, the president can’t do much to drive prices up, let alone drive them down. The reason they are falling now has to do with fears of a recession, as well as reduced demand in China.

Unfortunately, Biden likely contributed to the belief that he could control gas prices by making a big show of trying to do something about them. He called for investigations into gas companies to “whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump”. and released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But even people who generally support him (like me) have pointed out that while a number of presidents have taken this step in the past, the release of oil from the strategic reserve may have, at most, a minimal and temporary effect on global supply.

And in the media, these occasional fact-checks have been overwhelmed by a torrent of reports like “Rising prices pose political challenge to Biden.” These were full of quotes from Republicans saying it was Biden’s fault, and were driven by the assumption that blaming the president for gas prices is routine and reasonable, even if a line in the 12th paragraph could explain that it had nothing to do with them.

The long-term solution to the gas price problem is familiar to every American who owns an electric car or plug-in hybrid: get away from fossil fuels. If you drive a Hyundai Ioniq or a Tesla (which conservatives now find cool since Elon Musk became a right-wing troll), you don’t care about gas prices.

While electric cars are still a small part of the market, sales have grown steadily and will almost certainly continue to rise, particularly because the Curbing Inflation Act contained provisions intended to promote manufacturing and sales. of electric vehicles. Still, most cars on the road will be gas-powered for some time to come. Which means we will continue to be concerned about gasoline prices.

So here’s what we should do now, while everyone’s a little calmer on the matter: let’s promise and promise ourselves that the next time prices go up – as they inevitably will – we’ll try not to to be so stupid about it.

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