By Nancy Cook and Jordan Fabian
Bloomberg, Jun. 30, 2022
US President Joe Biden said Americans will have to stomach high gas prices “as long as it takes” to beat back Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“As long as it takes, so Russia cannot in fact defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine,” Biden told reporters Thursday in Madrid, in response to a question about how long high gas prices might persist. His comments echoes those of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his closest geopolitical ally and one who is facing similar pressures back home about the cost-of-living crisis.
The national average gasoline price hit a record this month above $5 a gallon, even after Biden ordered a historic release from US reserves earlier this year. Prices at the pump have been a main driver of inflation, which has been a major political headache for the Biden administration.
Biden said he’ll ask allies in the Persian Gulf region to boost oil production when he meets with them during a trip to Saudi Arabia next month, though he pointedly refrained to say he’d ask the country’s de-facto leader to directly when he meets de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in person next month.
Biden’s latest comments about inflation — which amount to telling voters that they need to brace themselves for the long haul — are unlikely to play well.
Americans have cited inflation — which hit a four-decade high this spring — as their primary concern heading into November midterms. Democrats will likely lose control of Congress. That worst-case scenario will become even likelier if the US. goes into recession. Concerns about such a downturn are growing daily.
An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Wednesday found that 85% of adults said the country was on the wrong track, with 79% describing the economy as “poor.”
In that same poll, 67% of Democrats deemed economic conditions as bad.
The White House has taken pains to show it is trying to solve the inflation quandary — by tackling supply chain snarls, releasing extra barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve and lifting the ban of E15 gas during the summer.
Biden has called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months, but that proposal was met with resistance from key Democratic lawmakers.
Biden aides have tried to point to the strong labor market and low unemployment rate as the major bright spot of the economy — and evidence of their strong stewardship of the U.S. during Covid.
So far, that hasn’t worked.