President Joe Biden’s administration appeared to be adopting a “look busy” strategy while effectively doing nothing to combat rising costs as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen indicated they were receptive to near-term solutions that had been proposed months ago.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” with host George Stephanopoulos, Yellen argued the president had made it his top priority to address inflation and the costs that were crippling consumers. With the average price of gas holding around $5 per gallon after setting another record high on June 14, the host brought up calls from Congress for a gas tax holiday.
“Is that on the table?” Stephanopoulos asked briskly.
“President Biden wants to do anything he possibly can to help consumers,” Yellen began, striking a tone of politics over policy. “Gas prices have risen a great deal and it’s clearly burdening households.”
She remained non-committal and added, “He stands ready to work with Congress and that’s an idea that’s certainly worth considering.”
Meanwhile, as the president has continually been foisting the blame for rising prices on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly (AZ), Maggie Hassan (NH), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), and Raphael Warnock (GA) were petitioning for a suspension of the gas tax weeks prior to the invasion of Ukraine.
Vulnerable Democrats introduce bill to suspend gas tax https://t.co/qXmT6VmNoJ
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 10, 2022
At the time Kelly said, “Arizonans are paying some of the highest prices for gas we have seen in years and it’s putting a strain on families who need to fill up the tank to get to work and school. This bill will lower gas prices by suspending the federal gas tax through the end of the year to help Arizona families struggling with high costs for everything from gas to groceries.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 10, 2022
Some Democratic governors followed suit a month later throwing their support behind a suspension of the more than 18 cents per gallon gas tax. In a letter to Congress, Democratic Govs. Gretchen Whitmer (MI), Jarid Polis (CO), Tim Waltz (MN), Tom Wolf (PA), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM) and Tony Evers (WI) wrote, “At a time when people are directly impacted by rising prices on everyday goods, a federal gas tax holiday is a tool in the toolbox to reduce costs for Americans, and we urge you to give every consideration to this proposed legislation.”
Throughout the interview, Yellen fell back on blaming Putin while talking up the president and denying his actions were leading to a continued decline.
“Clearly inflation is unacceptably high. It’s President Biden’s top priority to bring it down and Chair Powell has said that his goal is to bring inflation down while maintaining a strong labor market. That’s going to take skill and luck, but, I believe it’s possible,” she expressed. “I don’t think a recession is inevitable.”
Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR) inadvertently showed how misguided Biden’s handling of the economy has been when he wrote a letter to the president Thursday in opposition to a gas tax holiday. The Hill reported that Blumenauer wrote, “While there is undoubtedly a need to provide American consumers relief from spiking costs, there is no guarantee a gas tax suspension would reduce prices at the pump or stem the broader inflation affecting the global economy, and it may only increase oil companies’ bottom lines.”
He went on to explain that the suspension of the tax would cost the Highway Trust Fund $20 billion and create a “massive hole” in the infrastructure budget. “Delaying, or cancelling outright, the projects this legislation makes possible will waste a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild and renew America, and leave future generations holding the bag for long overdue repairs and improvements.”
Perhaps this was something that could have been considered before Congress pushed through a $40 billion spending package for Ukraine.
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