Unofficially official: National gas price average breaks $5 a gallon for first time ever

Yet another single step of incompetence for Joe Biden and his administration, but it’s a giant leap for “incredible transitions.” The official data from the EIA will come out later this afternoon, but the Washington Post uses AAA data to declare that the inevitable has arrived. And that it will be shortly eclipsed, too:

With the average price of gas nationwide topping $5 per gallon Saturday, surging fuel prices across the United States are creating new strains for millions of consumers and businesses, while compounding intractable political challenges for the Biden administration.

The spike in gas, oil and diesel prices has saddled all kinds of businesses with higher costs that will force them to raise prices on their customers and pull back on new investments. It risks a slowdown in consumer demand, as households cut back on other expenditures to accommodate their new fuel costs. Gas purchases on their own make up only a relatively small portion of most families’ budgets, but energy is so crucial to the functioning of the economy more broadly that the price increases bring along higher prices in many other sectors. …

The unrelenting upward march of gas prices has emerged as one of the chief domestic political threats to the Biden administration ahead of this fall’s midterm elections, and the White House has few obvious solutions to reverse the trend despite an intensive push by top aides and the president himself. The White House is now caught between liberals allies in Congress who are pushing for escalating a populist attack on oil and gas firms, and the views of some of their trusted economic experts who believe those efforts could prove counterproductive.

Er … “could prove counterproductive”? How much evidence of “counterproductive” does the Washington Post require? This really should be enough, even before breaching the $5 line:

The WaPo editorial board tried to claim yesterday that 75% of this increase was a result of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. They only got to that figure by starting their comparison in the midpoint of the sharp rise:

This is largely Vladimir Putin’s fault. Gas prices are up nearly $2 in the past year, and 75 percent of that increase came since Putin’s Russian troops invaded Ukraine. The United States and many other countries rightly responded to this unjustified war by imposing heavy sanctions and halting purchases of Russian oil and grain. But that means supplies are down, and energy and food prices have soared to record highs around the world. Putin wants — and expects — the world to cave and lift the sanctions and cede parts of Ukraine to Russia in the face of these high prices. As hard as it is, we cannot let Putin win.

Why did the WaPo editors look at June 12, 2021 as their starting point? Biden issued his EO 13990 on January 20, 2021, which imposed significant costs and restrictions on the entire cycle of oil and gas production. The EIA average price of gas on that day was $2.464 per gallon. By June 14, it was $3.161 per gallon, a 70-cent and 28% increase in just under five months. Between June 14, 2021 and the invasion, prices went up another forty-six cents to $3.624, a 47% increase in the price of gasoline. Assuming we’re at $5 a gallon now, the $1.40 increase since the invasion would only be 55% of the overall Biden increase, not 75%. And don’t forget, too, that it took several weeks after the invasion before the US and the EU even started to apply sanctions on Russian energy.

In other words, this is a dishonest attempt to get Biden off the hook for his own stated “incredible transition” goals.

Defenders of the administration have also rushed to argue that we should consider the new record average gas price of $5 or greater in light of inflation and say that it’s been relatively higher in the past. That may be true, but it’s akin to a defense arguing that a man who murders his parents should be shown mercy on account of his becoming an orphan. And besides, it appears that in today’s dollars, we hit the peak in 2012 with an adjusted $4.87 per gallon ($3.877 at the time). So we passed that peak two weeks ago, at least.

And again, let’s not forget that this is exactly what Joe Biden intended when he issued EO 13990. He wanted to stop drilling, extracting, and refining in the US, as Biden explicitly promised to do on the campaign trail:

Not only did Joe Biden create this situation, Biden did it deliberately and for a specific purpose — to punish Americans who use gasoline for their vehicles. And in that, he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. It seems odd that the Washington Post doesn’t want to give him credit for his victory.