Maybe it’s an incredible transition instead? Joe Biden spent his afternoon demanding that Congress create a silly and pointless gas-tax holiday, a pandering tactic firmly ridiculed by his patron Barack Obama in 2008. Democrats on Capitol Hill appeared unimpressed, but apparently so were a few officials in the White House, according to the Washington Post:
But the notion of a gas tax holiday was met with instant criticism — not only from members of both parties on Capitol Hill, but even from many officials within the administration who said privately that it would probably do little to significantly lower gas prices.
Top Treasury Department officials expressed doubts about the gas tax holiday, and at least two top White House economists also privately conveyed reservations, according to two people familiar with the internal deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose sensitive conversations. …
Eswar Prasad, an economist at Cornell University, said top officials at the Treasury Department have been clear in internal discussions that they believe Americans would probably see only limited benefits from a gas tax holiday, even if Congress were to enact one.
“Treasury has been approaching this from an analytical perspective, and people there realize that the direct economic benefits to consumers are likely to be quite limited, while the budgetary implications would be significant,” said Prasad, who served as an official at the International Monetary Fund, citing conversations with multiple senior officials.
Treasury officials “expressed concerns to the White House that this is not the optimal strategy to tackle inflation and the political benefits are likely to be quite limited,” Prasad said.
Obama himself noted the “limited” benefits of temporarily lifting the gas tax in April 2008, when both John McCain and Hillary Clinton pledged to push a “holiday” through Congress:
Back when Obama dismissed the idea of a gas tax holiday https://t.co/6RfqDoWXCY
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) June 22, 2022
Worth noting, too: the gas tax hasn’t changed since then. It’s still 18.4¢ per gallon, but the average price of gas at that time was $3.653 per gallon. As of last week — since the EIA still hasn’t issued its overdue report for this week — the average price per gallon is $5.107, which makes 18 cents even less relevant and impactful than it would have been in 2008.
But even more to the point, this actually exacerbates what is at its root a supply issue. This doesn’t add supply, and to the extent it would have any impact at all on the market, it would be to add demand, at least in the short run. CNN’s Matt Egan made the same point yesterday when the White House leaked Biden’s plans to push for a gas-tax holiday. That’s why this may have been Biden’s most brain-dead argument yesterday, too:
Biden: "To the companies running gas stations and setting those prices at the pump, this is a time of war, global peril, Ukraine. These are not normal times. Bring down the price you are charging at the pump. Do it now." pic.twitter.com/DF9TEduoM5
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) June 22, 2022
First off, this is not a “time of war” for the United States. In fact, Biden spent the last few weeks of summer last year bragging about how he’d ended American involvement in combat in his disgraceful and shambolic retreat from Afghanistan, until it finally got through Biden’s thick skull that he’d created a political disaster. This is more or less an accusation of war profiteering when neither Biden nor Congress have declared war or even sent troops into combat, another form of dipstick demagoguery from America’s leading dipstick. In this case, patriotism is the last refuge of this particular scoundrel.
But even apart from that, this is a nonsense argument. Gas station owners — most of those independent, and many of those single-station owners — set their prices on what they expect the next supply to cost them. They can’t lower prices while supply remains restricted and demand keeps going up, not without serious rationing — and that would create another massive political problem for Democrats. Lowering prices would only stoke demand and put even more stress on supply, which would make Biden’s supply issues even worse than they are now. Leave it to an idiot who never worked in a private-sector sales organization to come up with ways to really foul things up.
On the plus side, we have made a fundamental turn this week, if the Post’s sources are correct. Even the White House now disapproves of Joe Biden’s economic performance.