Joe Biden’s messaging on fuel prices is constantly shifting gears but they never manage to travel lower.
Friday provided an apt metaphor for how out of touch this Biden administration gets regarding this country. They had scheduled a speech at a California shipping yard so the president could address issues about the economy but did so without regard to the latest CPI report being issued.
The jarring inflation increase of 8.6 percent was enough to drown out the media outlets desperate to tout the previous night’s January 6 Commission hearing, yet the speech was not only scheduled on the heels of that disaster — they went ahead with planned talking points, oblivious to the economic reality that had just landed. How this release had not been accounted for prior to setting this date, and that the speech Biden delivered carried no adjustments in content indicate a severe disconnect in place with these people.
AP Photo/Mike Stewart
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Adding to the dysphoria in all of this is a press corps deeply disinterested in framing things accurately. There is no desire to hold Biden accountable for words spoken, and too much willingness to defend the man blindly. The primary issue is that looking at his words finds Biden in conflict with himself frequently — and yet, there is never anything approaching accountability from the journalists.
The man who ran on the promise that the buck will always stop with him has taken the position since taking office that same buck simply never manages to arrive. Gas prices are blamed on the pandemic, increased demand, supply chain challenges, oil companies gouging consumers, and the latest favorite being Vladamir Putin’s war on Ukraine. Beyond these persistent deflections, there is a raft of contradictions.
On Friday, Biden tried to sell us on the concept that there has been pricing stabilization. One area that should see low prices is the gaslighting industry, as Biden delivers this by the gross. He literally managed to deliver this message with the shipping port backdrop.
The debate about this can be whether he was referring to a yearly rise or a month-to-month, but in either case, he has to rely on twisted math. He looks at the figure by removing food and energy prices, to focus on the core inflation number, to come up with a favorable result. Yet everyone is feeling it in gas and food prices, so his dodge is fruitless.
It also flies in the face of the administration’s favored talking point. On Friday, he now referred to the dodge of calling this “Putin’s tax” on food and gas. This failed attempt cannot be realistic if he is claiming that things have stabilized over the past months, which would have been when the farcical Putin’s tax would be felt. But the media that tries to get us to buy into this current fiction were busying themselves with deflecting responsibility one year ago – when prices had already jumped well ahead of that convenient Putin action.
One other idea was to increase the production of ethanol and raise the percentage per gallon of this used as an additive. This is a dubious solution because he is essentially tapping into the country’s already stressed food supply. But now this April proposal is being thought of as wrongheaded just weeks later – by the same man who brought it forward as an answer to the fuel challenge.
But privately, Biden dismissed the policy as ineffective and questioned the value of the trip, according to two people familiar with the conversations. After returning to the White House, he hauled his senior staff, including chief of staff Ron Klain, into the Oval Office, badgering them with questions about the purpose of the event.
This hardly delivers confidence in a group that they are on top of these issues with wisdom and foresight. On Friday, Joe went on another tangent while pointing another finger, this one aimed at other oil companies. Now he has moved away from only saying they are gouging America to record profits; the next accusation is that oil companies in this country are refusing to drill. Again, this is done in the name of greed, according to Biden. But this ignores two other realities. The first being that when he was running for president, Biden pledged to move away from oil dependence, and he pushed one main way to do that – cutting down on the amount of drilling in America.
They recently made the hasty decision to run to the shale oil producers, hoping to get them to pump up production. The administration was surprised to learn there was little interest, as that industry has constricted and is reluctant to boost investments into production. This is directly due to Biden’s prior hostility to oil production and pledging to shut things down, now dealing with the consequence of his promises.
It was a centerpiece of his campaign that Biden would get the oil industry to be curtailed. “No more subsidies for the fossil fuel industry,” he said during a Democratic debate. “No more drilling including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill period. It ends.” So not only is the country facing a reality he promised, the problem he needs to be fixed is one he has created. While he wants drilling to increase it would not do much good, because of another reality; oil refining is where there is another bottleneck.
Oil production is down by about 900,000 barrels since the pre-pandemic era, and even with an increase, there would be a chokepoint with refineries still coming back online since the pandemic shutdown. At issue is how many will actually reopen. Biden’s shutdown of the Keystone Pipeline construction, as well as his pledge to move the country to more electric vehicles, is preventing some refineries from reopening or being expanded, let alone having new ones built up.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
In Houston, one of the country’s largest refineries is closing at the end of the year. At a time when the administration is desperate for more domestic production, they will be facing a lowered output. And like all the other problems, this is an issue of Biden’s making.
All of this, of course, had been feared as a likely result in 2020. Biden has this wild desire to move the country to renewable energy, but his lurch in that direction comes at the expense of handicapping current energy production before a viable alternative is realized. He got what he wished for before he delivered what had been promised.
What they need to work on right now are solutions, rather than crafting new excuses. It is time for that buck to reach Biden’s Resolute desk, regardless of how devalued it may be once it gets there.