Biden announces plan to combat high gas prices but ignores press questions

Comes as inflation becomes a political liability for Biden.

Eric Garcia
Tuesday 23 November 2021 23:43
Biden ignores reporters questions after speech on fuel crisis

President Joe Biden announced that his administration would tap into the United States’s strategic petroleum reserve, calling it the largest-ever release from the reserve, but seemed to ignore questions from reporters.

A White House official said earlier that the US would release 50 million barrels in an effort to combat rising gasoline prices.

But the president failed to take any questions, much to the consternation of reporters in the White House press corps. As Mr Biden wrapped up his speech, he told reporters he would have “plenty of time to talk to you later”.

“When will you answer our questions sir,” one reporter asked as he exited.

Mr Biden sought to offer perspective about rising gas prices, noting how there were similar spikes in 2012, 2014, and 2019.

“The fact is we always get through those spikes but we’re going to get through this one as well and hopefully faster,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean we should just stand by idly and wait for prices to drop on their own. Instead, we’re taking action.”

Rising gas prices have plagued Mr Biden in recent weeks and he has even admitted that inflation has become a problem for people’s everyday lives. The national average for gas prices is $3.40 (£2.54), which is $1.29 (£0.96) more than it was a year ago, according to AAA. In some places like California, the average price of gas is $4.70 (£3.91).

Mr Biden’s polling has also taken a hit as inflation rises. A poll from The Washington Post and ABC News earlier this month found that 48 per cent of Americans, compared with 50 per cent of those polled, blamed the president either “a great deal” or a “good amount” for rising prices.

Mr Biden said a big reason why gas prices were so high was that countries that produce oil did not increase their supply of oil to meet the increased demand.

“Today I’m announcing that the largest ever release from the US strategic petroleum reserve to help provide the supply we need as we recover from this pandemic,” he said.

The president also said that India, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan all pledged to release oil from their reserves and that China might do more as well.

“Today we’re launching a major effort to moderate the price of oil, an effort that will span the globe in its reach and ultimately reach your corner gas station God willing,” he said, “While our combined actions will not solve the problem of high gas prices over night, it will make a difference.

At the same time, the president faulted oil companies for paying less for oil and making more while not passing the cost onto consumers.

“That’s unacceptable. That’s why I’ve asked the Federal Trade Commission to consider whether potentially illegal and anti-competitive behavior in the oil and gas industry is causing higher prices for consumers, so we can assure the American people are paying a fair price for their gasoline.”

Similarly, Mr Biden said that his environmental policies were not the cause of increased gas prices.

“My effort to combat climate change is not raising the price of gas or increasing its availability,” he said. “What it’s doing is it’s increasing the availability of jobs.”

But Republicans wasted no time hitting the president.

“Joe Biden’s failed leadership caused skyrocketing prices, and now American families are paying more for gas, groceries, and everything this Thanksgiving,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said. The chairwoman also used the moment to hit Mr Biden’s proposed Build Back Better social welfare legislation that she called “Build Back Broke,” saying it would raise taxes and drive up prices.

“In Biden’s America, you have to empty your wallet to fill your plate this Thanksgiving.”

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