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Nate Jackson / November 12, 2021

Joe Biden’s Gas Pains

Democrats want higher gas prices, but they don’t like the political blowback.

“Did you ever think you’d be paying this much for a gallon of gas?” marveled President Joe Biden earlier this week when inflation numbers revealed that gas prices are up 60% this year. Overall, energy is up 30%. We know Joe is suffering severe cognitive decline, but his question was out in left field even for him. He’s been in Washington since 1972, not long before that decade’s energy crisis, but nevertheless we’re happy to help him out with a walk down memory lane.

The last time we paid this much for a gallon of gas was during the presidency of Biden’s former boss, Barack Obama. He had waged a war on fossil fuel producers, saddling the industry with regulations and drilling bans that constricted supply and drove prices higher. It was a deliberate component of Obama’s “green” agenda that sought to centrally plan the economy in order to fight climate change.

Then President Donald Trump came along and largely fulfilled one of the great promises of the last 10 presidents: He made the U.S. largely energy independent — we became the world’s largest producer and a net exporter of both oil and natural gas. How did he do it? By getting government out of the way. Energy producers were free to make sure supply met demand, because they could drill for oil and natural gas in areas previously off limits.

On the campaign trail in 2020, Joe Biden implicitly promised to undo that America First success and turn back the clock to the economic pain of the Obama era. He said he’d handicap the fossil fuel industry just like Obama did, banning this and regulating that, all of which makes drilling and production harder and more expensive. Within hours of taking the oath of office, he set off on this destructive path by killing the Keystone Pipeline. He pledged a transition to electric cars, which he then mandated by executive fiat. He’s pushing both his newly passed “infrastructure” package along with his Build Back Better scheme, both of which are full of Green New Deal rejiggering of the energy sector.

“By pursuing policies that restrict supply and make it harder to produce oil and natural gas here in America, Americans will have to pay more for their energy,” said American Exploration and Production Council’s CEO Anne Bradbury. “Stopping pipelines, slowing permitting, raising taxes, and increasing regulatory burdens will only drive-up costs, and hurt American jobs.” It really is that simple.

And yet Biden has the gall to ask, “Did you ever think you’d be paying this much for a gallon of gas?”

Nationwide, the average is $3.41. “In some parts of California,” Biden noticed, “they’re paying $4.50 a gallon.” Actually, the California average is $4.65, in part because the state just raised its gas tax to 51 cents in July.

It would be aggravating enough if Biden was asking an honest question. But there’s nothing honest about Joe Biden — he knows exactly why gas prices are so high. Indeed, he and his fellow ecofascists want it that way because shocking people at the gas pump is one of the key ways to goad them into choosing favored electric vehicles (EVs).

If you doubt that leftists are unfairly putting their thumbs on the EV scales, just take a gander at the market cap for electric truck upstart Rivian. The 12-year-old company has never recorded actual revenue and has sold just 156 vehicles, primarily to its own employees. But it just entered the public stock market this week, “and at $120.5 billion Rivian is the fifth largest auto maker in the world by market value,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes. “Ponder that one.” Tesla, which actually has a track record of success, is worth more than $1 trillion.

From a technological standpoint, electric vehicles are pretty cool and there’s a lot for which to commend them. But it’s a fairy tale that they’re entirely clean, and subsidies right now largely go to the affluent while unfairly inflating market value. Billionaire Jeff Bezos’s Amazon, for example, will benefit from a 30% tax credit for buying 100,000 Rivian vans.

“This is an extraordinary moment,” say the Journal’s editors. “We are watching the government literally underwrite a new industry before our eyes, steering capital to EV makers come what may.”

And EVs are just one component of the “green” agenda. It’s not enough for Democrats to subsidize such cars, or wind farms and solar panels (made, by the way, using petroleum). Government must obstruct and interfere in the market for fossil fuels to handicap the competition to their preferred energy solutions.

Nuclear power anyone? Anyone?

Meanwhile, Leftmedia journalists are dutifully circling the wagons for Biden, insisting there’s not much he can do about gas prices — or inflation, for that matter. His energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, took a page from Kamala Harris and is literally laughing at the idea.

Such reactions are preposterous, of course. All presidents get too much credit or blame for economic matters, and there isn’t a switch in the Oval Office that will suddenly produce either higher or lower prices. But presidential edicts, mandates, and subsidies can have a huge impact on what would otherwise be a free market.

And if Biden didn’t think there was anything he could do about gas prices, he wouldn’t be demanding that the world wean itself from oil entirely all while begging OPEC to increase production and then blaming OPEC when it tells him to pound sand.

As political analyst Kevin Williamson quipped, “It wasn’t the Arabs who killed that big Keystone XL pipeline project — it was one Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., feckless creature of Delaware and lifelong choo-choo enthusiast.”

The ugly truth is that, in order to achieve Democrat goals for a climate-rigged economy, Biden needs gas prices to keep going even higher, and he’ll work toward that end. Analysts predict prices will be 45% higher by June 2022. Think $5 per gallon. Biden just doesn’t ever want you to think it’s his fault or put one of those “I did that” stickers on your local gas pump.

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