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Biden’s New Economic Scorecard: The Price at the Pump

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Washington — Gasoline prices have fallen for more than a month after surpassing $ 5 a gallon in June. The Biden administration wants to tell you about it. Over and over again.

As of Friday, President Biden and his top aide are participating in a full-scale campaign to trumpet that national AAA average gas prices have fallen for 38 consecutive days. The president made the statement at the beginning of his speech on the right to abortion and a press conference in Saudi Arabia. The aide accused the reporter of spending no more time on the subject, repeatedly trotting the chart showing the downward trajectory in the news briefing.

When Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador stabbed Biden at a meeting at the White House this month and said Americans were crossing the border to buy cheaper gas, he called him. Interfered.

“It went down for 30 consecutive days,” Biden said.

Celebrating the day-to-day decline at Pump became his version of President Donald J. Trump boasting about the rise in the stock market: hoping to drive the story of victory between consumers and voters. And the public’s obsession with a single economic indicator.

Accepting this particular trend carries with it an obvious risk to Mr. Biden. Gas prices are notorious for bouncing up and down, and events beyond his control can easily push them up again. If the government’s efforts to impose a global price cap on Russia’s oil exports fail by the end of the year, White House economists say prices could be higher than this spring, at $ 7 per gallon. I’m afraid.

Gasoline cheerleaders also pose an ironic challenge to Mr. Biden’s efforts to confront the growing crisis of a warming planet.

Soaring prices have had the short-term impact of causing budget-constrained Americans to stop driving and temporarily reduce consumption of fossil fuels that promote global warming. But White House aides say high prices haven’t helped Biden’s efforts to move the country into a low-emission future. Instead, these costs could undermine his long-term climate goals by strengthening political and public support for more oil drilling and other fossil fuel projects.

High prices for drivers have already afflicted voters with the president’s economic treatment and his overall ability to perform his duties. “When the price of gas went up, you felt it.” Biden, who often talks about growing up in a working-class family, said he could do whatever he could to lower those prices for months. I tried to reassure voters that they were doing it.

Mr. Byden opened the door to strategic petroleum stockpiling as global demand for oil increased amid a recovery in economic activity from the pandemic when gasoline rose above $ 3 a gallon nationwide in the fall. .. In the spring, when the price reached $ 4 a gallon, he announced an exemption to allow the summer sale of high-ethanol gasoline, which is slightly cheaper for drivers but emits more greenhouse gases throughout its life cycle. Did.

Analysts say the president’s efforts may have helped keep prices down with margins. However, no economist has given the government a majority credit for the plunge in global oil prices that began in early June. Instead, they point out the power of the market: a decline in oil demand from China, which is enduring another wave of restrictions due to the coronavirus, and a weakening of economic activity in Europe and other wealthy countries. .. Russian oil also continues to flow into the global market, despite sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western nations.

The average national price reported by AAA on Friday was $ 4.41 per gallon. Last month’s decline could favor inflation in July more than the 9.1% annual rise in the consumer price index reported by the Ministry of Labor in June. Industry analysts and futures markets suggest that more bailouts are likely to be expected in the coming weeks.

Biden embraced the change. On Friday, at the first virtual event since the previous day’s coronavirus positive, the president convened half a dozen economic advisers to explain the fall in gas prices.

“You can find gas for less than $ 3.99 at more than 30,000 gas stations in more than 35 states,” he said. “In some areas, it has fallen by almost $ 1 since last month.”

Government officials have sought to divert criticism of rising oil prices over the past year, but were pleased to claim at least partial credit for the current decline.

“There’s a lot involved in global oil and gas pricing, but President Biden is President Putin’s Ukraine,” Jarid Bernstein, a member of the White House Economic Advisory Board, said in a news briefing Monday. The impact of the invasion continues to contribute to the increase in global oil supply, and therefore a mix of price-lowering factors. “

Republicans have a price 2 gallons higher Than when Mr. Biden took office. (They do not say he inherited an economy in which global oil demand was constrained by the coronavirus pandemic.)

It’s also counterintuitive that the president is encouraging reductions in gasoline costs while pursuing what he promises to be an ambitious one-sided agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You might think.

“The real answer is to reach the clean energy economy as soon as possible and turn it into something positive,” Biden said on Friday.

Economists say that raising the price of fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline is a way to ensure that consumers burn less and encourage them to switch to low-emission alternative fuels such as electric vehicles. I greatly agree with you. The Reported by the Energy Department On Wednesday, gasoline usage in the United States fell by nearly 8% in the last four weeks compared to the same period a year ago. It continued in the second quarter of this year, and the Energy Intelligence Agency said it could be the result of rising gasoline prices.

But Biden administration officials say high prices haven’t helped the president’s climate change problem, even for economists who previously supported tax increases on fossil fuels.

Prices have revitalized the Republican Party’s impetus for increased oil and gas drilling on federal land, and Mr Biden promised to end during the presidential campaign. Recent price fluctuations have temporarily suspended customers when considering buying more efficient gas and electric vehicles when consumers are having difficulty buying electric vehicles due to a shortage of supply chains in the automotive industry. It may also be stopped.

Mr Biden’s aide personally says that gas prices need to be lowered in order for Americans to continue on the energy transformation. Definitely less than $ 4 per gallon, preferably less than the national average of less than $ 3 at the beginning of last summer. ..

If prices continue to fall at the rate of the past month, the national average will fall below $ 3 per gallon in the last few weeks of the pre-midterm campaign. To be exact, it takes about 79 days.

Not everyone is counting.

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