Team Biden is ‘gaslighting’ on gas prices with #PutinPriceHike

Team Biden is ‘gaslighting’ on gas prices with #PutinPriceHike

By Joe Concha

“No more subsidies for the fossil fuel industry! No more drilling on federal lands! No more drilling, including offshore! No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period. [It] ends. Number one!” 

That was candidate Joe Biden declaring war on American energy independence during a CNN primary debate in March 2020. He promised no new fracking too. 

Now here’s President Biden earlier this week: “Loosening environmental regulations won’t lower prices. But transforming our economy to run on electric vehicles, powered by clean energy, will mean that no one will have to worry about gas prices. It will mean tyrants like Putin won’t be able to use fossil fuels as a weapon.” 

Timing is everything, especially in politics — and this may be the most disconnected, tone-deaf message to come out of any White House in some time. 

As you may have seen and felt while filling up your car at the pump, gas prices are at their most expensive point in history, at $4.17 or more per gallon. On former President Trump’s last day in the White House, gas cost $2.38 a gallon. 

But if you listen to Biden, Vice President Harris, their staffs and their cheerleaders on TV, this is totally the perfect time to ditch your gas guzzler and buy an electric vehicle. 

“We are all in the midst of a turning point. We have the technologies to transition to a zero-emission fleet,” Harris said on March 7 amid soaring gas prices and inflation. “We can address the climate crisis and grow our economy at the same time.”

“Our view is that the rise in gas prices over the long term makes an even stronger case for doubling down our investment and our focus on clean energy options so we are not relying on the fluctuations and OPEC [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] and their willingness to put more supply and meet the demand in the market,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters a few weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine. 

“Today, the average gas price in America hit an all-time record high of over $4 per gallon,” CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert said. “OK, that stings, but a clear conscience is worth a buck or two. I’m willing to pay. I’m willing to pay $4 a gallon. Hell, I’ll pay $15 a gallon because I drive a Tesla.”

Hilarious! And that Tesla he drives? That’s probably out of the price range for much of his audience watching at home. 

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before,” former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told corporate executives at a Wall Street Journal conference during the 2008 financial crisis. And that’s what Team Biden is attempting to do here: somehow convince the American public, already fatigued, frustrated and beaten down by everything from COVID-19 to crime to rising inflation, that we need to embrace the Green New Deal and all the wonderful things that come with it, regardless of conditions felt by the lower and middle classes. 

But here’s the best part, if unintentional comedy is your thing: Team Biden and its allies in the media are attempting to portray inflation, especially higher gas prices, as being just recently thrust upon Americans by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“For months Putin has been saber-rattling, and for months gas prices have been going up — up 75 cents since he began his military buildup,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield tweeted earlier this week. “This is the #PutinPriceHike in action, and [Biden] is going to use every tool at his disposal to shield Americans from pain at the pump.”

And here’s Psaki on March 8: “Americans are paying a higher price at the pump because of the actions of President Putin.”

The facts, however, show that gas prices have been rising since November 2020, more than 14 months before Putin’s “saber-rattling.” 

Funny how up until a few weeks ago the White House never made any connection between Putin and domestic gas prices, instead blaming everything from OPEC to oil companies here at home. 

But traditional broadcast media outlets got the memo and followed it to the letter. 

“The U.S. economy has been hit with increased gas prices, inflation, and supply-chain issues due to the Ukraine crisis,” was the Twitter headline from CBS News. 

“‘Putin’s price hike’ will be borne by American consumers,” said ABC News. 

“The new message, which has been tested in Democratic polling, is threefold: empathize with the economic strain high fuel prices are putting on Americans, which Biden already has been doing; send a strong warning to oil and gas companies that might seek to exploit the crisis; and blame Putin,” reported NBC News, quoting an unnamed White House official. 

No mention in this threefold, poll-tested approach about turning to the likes of oil-producing nations Venezuela, Iran or Saudi Arabia instead of unleashing American energy independence. 

Restarting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which the president suspended not long after taking office, as he promised to do during the campaign, would be a good start. Uncanceling the Keystone XL pipeline would be another good step for the long term. And reducing restrictions on fracking would be welcomed by everyone but the far left, which lives in the utopian post-Green New Deal world that the administration is still pushing as you read this. 

On Tuesday, Biden was asked what Americans can expect on gas prices. ”They’re going to go up,” he said. When asked about solutions, he offered this shoulder-shrug response: “Can’t do much right now. Russia is responsible.”

This is an administration that is especially accomplished at pointing fingers.

So, inflation at a 40-year high? Blame Putin — or blame COVID-19. 

“Today’s inflation report is a reminder that Americans’ budgets are being stretched by price increases and families are starting to feel the impacts of Putin’s price hike,” Biden said Thursday after the Labor Department reported that prices rose 0.8 percent in February and 8.4 percent over the last three months. 

Millions of migrants illegally crossing the U.S. southern border? Blame Trump. 

Murders at a 25-year high? Simply say Republicans are the ones who back defunding the police. 

Everything is everyone else’s fault, and this administration and president are just victims of circumstances beyond their control. 

Gallup shows that nearly 8 in 10 Americans (78 percent) are dissatisfied with the country’s direction. The president is at historically low approval ratings. 

Biden promised on Election Day that he would take responsibility for any mistakes, declaring, “I promise you. I’m gonna take responsibility. When I make a mistake, I’ll admit it.” 

Instead, passing the buck has become Biden’s norm. And if history is any indication, his party will pay dearly for it in November 2022.

* * * * *

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.

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