About That ‘Putin Spike’ - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
About That ‘Putin Spike’

When President Biden was inaugurated, the average price of regular gasoline in the U.S. was $2.38. A little over a year later, the price has reached a record high of $4.32. Attempts by the White House to blame this increase on Vladimir Putin notwithstanding, the price had already risen to $3.53 before Russia invaded Ukraine. The problem is obviously the direct result of Biden’s irresponsible energy policies. During his first few weeks in office he issued a series of executive orders for the explicit purpose of discouraging domestic energy production — while demand for fuel was rapidly increasing. The inevitable result has been stratospheric gas prices.

The attempt to label this increase “the Putin spike” is only the latest red herring the White House has deployed to divert public attention from the genuine cause of the problem. When prices began to rise, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed, “Now, we know that some of the issue here is supply as a result of the pandemic.” By November, we were told that the villain of the piece was the avaricious energy industry, and Biden directed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate “anti-consumer behavior by oil-and-gas companies.” The real issue is the Biden administration’s ignorance concerning the laws of supply and demand. As the Manhattan Institute’s Jonathan Lesser explains in the Wall Street Journal:

The run-up in gasoline prices has been caused by the reduction in domestic production and inelastic demand. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, domestic crude-oil production increased by almost 50% from about 8.9 million barrels per day in January 2017 to 12.9 million bpd in November 2019.… This year, production has averaged around 11 million bpd. A 1-2 million bpd decrease may not sound like much. But consumers cannot suddenly switch to more efficient vehicles and have few options for significantly adjusting their consumption.

Not coincidentally, Biden’s ill-considered energy decisions very much resemble those of his erstwhile boss, former President Obama. When the latter took office in 2009, the average price per gallon of regular gasoline was $1.85. Like Biden, he declared war on the energy industry and by May 2011, the price had skyrocketed to $3.96. During the next three years, the average price of gasoline remained over $3.50 per gallon. Obama’s invariable response to any suggestion that these prices could be reduced by exploiting domestic oil reserves was, “We can’t just drill our way out of the problem.” This was subsequently proven to be nonsense by energy producers who developed the technologies that resulted in the shale boom.

It’s obvious that President Biden would rather negotiate with brutal communist dictators like Maduro than sit down with America’s energy producers to find a solution for high prices.

Hilariously, Obama took credit for the resultant increase in oil production and the decrease in gasoline prices produced by the shale boom: “That whole, suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas that was me, people.” It wasn’t him, of course. Even FactCheck.org called Obama on this whopper in an article titled, “Obama’s Misleading Oil Boast.” Obama was lucky enough to escape the opprobrium he richly deserved pursuant to his ill-conceived energy policies. Biden probably won’t be so fortunate. It’s clear that he would rather beg America’s enemies for oil rather than let domestic producers off the leash. He has even gone hat in hand to Venezuela’s brutal regime for assistance. Newsweek reports:

The Biden administration is facing bipartisan backlash over the possibility of easing sanctions against Venezuela in order to allow the country to increase exports of oil. There was skepticism from both Democrats and Republicans toward the idea after a group of U.S. officials visited Venezuela in the highest-level trip to the South American country in years, as the White House considers whether to ban oil imports from Russia.… Venezuela was once a major exporter of crude oil to the U.S. but a combination of mismanagement and U.S. sanctions severely curtailed exports.

The prospect of dealing with Venezuela’s authoritarian dictator Nicolás Maduro is particularly toxic in Florida, whose population includes about 200,000 residents of Venezuelan descent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) responded to the news that the Biden administration was negotiating with Maduro in a tweet: “Here it is, as I told you earlier the White House offered to abandon those seeking freedom from #Venezuela in exchange for an insignificant amount of oil & the announcement below from the narco-dictator #Maduro.” Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was also critical: “It is wrong for the Biden Administration to beg for oil from Venezuela & legitimize Maduro’s communist regime during an official visit.” (READ MORE: Biden’s Energy Ideology Fuels Russia’s War)

It’s obvious that President Biden would rather negotiate with brutal communist dictators like Maduro — whom the United States doesn’t even recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate leader — than sit down with America’s energy producers to find a solution for high prices. As Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) put it during a Fox News interview with Maria Bartiromo, “The whole thing is preposterous … They want to deal with international killers to put oil on the market rather than American drillers.” This isn’t just morally wrong. It’s dangerous. Nonetheless, the White House just released a propaganda video on Wednesday in which Press Secretary Jen Psaki looks Americans in the eye and repeats debunked lies about why gas prices are rising.

She still insists, for example, that Vladimir Putin and greedy oil companies are responsible for rising gas prices. Among the most obvious lies she repeats is the implausible claim that “Big Oil” is sitting on 9,000 approved permits that they could tap into now. In reality the government has issued 9,000 leases, more than half of which are useless because the Biden administration refuses to issue the necessary drilling permits. Most of the rest are held up by federal red tape. Americans are paying $4.32 per gallon of gas for one reason — the Biden administration is incompetent and corrupt. What we have here is a Biden spike.

David Catron
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David Catron is a recovering health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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