Dems Reportedly Strategising for Biden to Take Credit if Gas Prices Fall Ahead of 2022 Midterms
© AP Photo / Damian DovarganesIn this Friday, May 20, 2021, photo, a fuel truck driver checks the gasoline tank level at a United Oil gas station in Sunset Blvd., in Los Angeles.
© AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes
Democratic strategists want to be one step ahead of the projected drop in gas prices to make sure the situation works in Joe Biden’s favour, reported The Hill.
Following heartening news from the US Energy Information Administration this week, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain tweeted on Wednesday that gas prices were “starting to come down,” adding that “we've got to make more progress, but it's moving in the right direction.”
The Democratic POTUS had been under fire from the Republicans over soaring oil and gas prices this year, with his energy and economic policies blamed for inflation and lower domestic fuel production. In July, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) insisted it was the president’s “hypocritical and backward energy policy that is putting a target on American workers.”
When Biden took over from Donald Trump in the White House, the average gas price at the pump was around $2.40 per gallon but soared to around $3.40 per gallon in November. At the same time, the GOP lambasted Biden’s exorbitant social spending plan – a centerpiece of his economic agenda.
© REUTERS / MARCO BELLOA sign that reads "Close Today. No Fuel" is seen at a gas station after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, in Houma, Louisiana, U.S. September 1, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello
A sign that reads "Close Today. No Fuel" is seen at a gas station after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, in Houma, Louisiana, U.S. September 1, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello
However, on Tuesday, the US Energy and Information Administration (EIA) projected that retail gasoline prices would drop to an average $3.13 per gallon in December. Furthermore, it is estimated they might be as low as $3.01 per gallon by next January, with the annual national average predicted at $2.88 per gallon in 2022.
On this reassuring news, the White House is seen as stepping away somewhat from its earlier stance, when it cautiously attributed a price drop to both the Biden administration policies and factors outside the government’s control. The latter has been spurred by a global boost in production by Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and fears about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus possibly curbing travel demands. Furthermore, the administration cited its decision to release 50 million barrels of oil from US reserves.
Now the Democratic strategy could be to take advantage of the projected fall in gas price to counter Republican attacks and claim credit for the welcome change.
On Wednesday, Joe Biden embraced the positive forecasts, emphasising the recent price drop and vowing he would ensure consumers are not “gouged for gas.”
“Real pump prices in 20 states are now lower than the 20-year average,” he said on Thursday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that a drop in oil prices had not yet directly translated to lower consumer prices, saying on 30 November:
“This has a real impact on the American people. It is incredibly frustrating… That's why the president is so focused on it.”
Furthermore, Psaki noted that Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to probe if energy companies have engaged in any illegal activity.
6 December 2021, 18:23 GMT
All this comes as the Democrats are growing increasingly concerned about next year’s midterms. The GOP needs to woo a handful of seats to win back majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Democratic strategist Eddie Vale said it’s essential that Democrats make sure that a gas price drop is seen as the result of the Biden administration’s efforts.
“We need to talk, in specifics, about what Biden and Democrats are doing to help people lower costs,” Vale was cited as saying in an email for the outlet.
“Democrats have to consistently show that they recognise the problem, they feel it and that they're taking action,” he added.