Until the other day, Republicans and conservative media were having fun, having fun, talking about gas prices. “Remember how cheap gas was under Trump?” it became sort of the answer to everything. Is there now overwhelming evidence that the former president conspired in the violent attempt to wreck the 2020 election? “The real America doesn’t care about the January 6 Committee. Gasoline costs over $5 a gallon [unos 3,785 litros]! said Rep. Jim Jordan.
But now the price is dropping. That’s down over 50 cents a gallon at the pump; wholesale prices, changes in which are normally reflected later in retail prices, fell further, a sign that prices will continue to fall for at least the next few weeks. And there’s a palpable sense of panic on Fox News, which had to confine itself to groaning about how the White House is taking a “lap of honor.”
In fact, from what I can see, Biden administration officials are extremely limited in highlighting the good news (which is likely a result of the global economic downturn). However, the most important point is that focusing on gas prices is stupid on the part of Republican politicians. And if it does come back to haunt them, it will simply be a matter of poetic justice.
Why is it stupid to focus on the price of gasoline? Let me tell you. First, while presidential politics can have big consequences for many things, the cost of filling your gas tank is not one of them. En su mayor parte, el precio de la gasolina reflects el precio del crudo, y los precios del crudo establecen en los mercados mundiales, siendo esta una de las razones por las que la inflation ha disparado en all el mundo, no solo en United States. Consumer spending in the early months of the Biden administration may have contributed to US inflation, but it has little to do with gas prices. Second, while gasoline was indeed cheap in 2020, it was cheap for a very bad reason: global oil demand has been depressed because the global economy in shock from the covid-19 pandemic. Third, even before the pandemic, gasoline prices were abnormally low.
Little known fact: prices at the pump fell during President Barack Obama’s second term. Newspaper reports at the time marveled at Obama’s reluctance to score. What happened? Above all, the rise in splitting, which has increased oil production in the United States so much that it has lowered prices around the world. However, it turns out that such a boom in production did not make financial sense. Energy companies borrowed huge sums to invest in new drilling, but never generated enough revenue to justify the cost. the industry of splitting he lost hundreds of billions even before the pandemic hit.
So high gas prices weren’t President Joe Biden’s fault, and given the disappearance of the forces that kept gas cheap, it’s hard to think of a policy that wouldn’t cause a global depression that would lower prices up to two dollars per gallon, or even up to three dollars per gallon. In any case, the Republicans do not offer real political proposals either. However, the Republican Party went for the cheap shot by trying to make the midterm elections focus primarily on gas prices. And this focus on gasoline is giving the party a stomach ache, as gasoline prices drop.
All things considered, it’s hard to spend month after month insisting that Biden deserves all the blame for rising gas prices and then denying him credit for lowering them. The usual suspects, of course, are working hard at it, but it probably won’t work for them. Some right-wing analysts are trying to take a longer view, pointing out that gasoline prices are still much higher than in 2020. That’s right. But much of his messaging has been based on his constituents’ amnesia, his supporters not remembering what really happened in 2020, and I have my doubts about the effectiveness of that approach.
More broadly, many Wall Street analysts expect strong lower inflation in the coming months. If analysts and markets are right, we are likely heading into a period where inflation headlines are better than the real picture; it is not certain that underlying inflation has come down much, if at all. But that’s not an argument Republicans, who have done their best to simplify the inflation debate, are in a position to make.
This has clear implications for the midterm elections. Republicans counted on inflation to give them a big win, though they offered no explanation of what they would do to fix the situation. But if you look at the generic ballot, which likely doesn’t yet reflect falling gas prices, rather than Biden’s approval rating, the mid-terms appear to be surprisingly competitive. Maybe real Americans care about violent attacks on democracy, like the overturning of Roe v. Wade (who protected abortion rights federally) and stuff like that.
If the good inflation news continues to roll in, the November election could be very different from what everyone expected.
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