Politics GOP sees opportunity to knock Biden amid rising gas prices
Biden's 1st 100 days: Promises kept, broken, or in progress
Here's a look at how President Joe Biden is measuring up against the markers he set for himself. As a candidate and incoming president, he had promised a series of swift and sweeping actions to address the range of challenges he inherited.
As gas prices are on the rise, Republicans see a window to step up their attacks on President Biden's energy agenda.
GOP criticisms of higher costs at the pump could resonate with Americans, and congressional Republicans have repeatedly bashed the Biden administration's push toward renewable fuel sources as a war on energy.
"Every time you go fill up, you're feeling that in your pocket," said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.).
Experts say the increasing demand for gas, and subsequent rise in prices, is due in large part to an improving economy as states loosen COVID-19 restrictions. The revitalized economy may outweigh higher gas prices for many Americans - but Republicans are betting on some frustration.
President Biden's first 100 days: What he's gotten done
President Joe Biden has moved fast since his January 20 swearing-in, signing a $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill into law less than two months into his term and issuing more executive orders so far than his three predecessors. © Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images A first-grader works on an English exercise on the first day of class in Los Angeles on April 13, 2021. Those efforts have paid off, with the administration reaching the milestones of 200 million coronavirus shots delivered and vaccine eligibility opened to everyone 16 and over before Biden's 100th day in office.
As the country makes progress in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, more people are expected to be empowered to travel, take vacations and once again use their cars.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said that this, combined with cyclical summer gasoline increases, is expected to drive prices up.
"Generally when demand is as strong as it is, you're not going to find any discounts," De Haan said. "I think there's going to be some pent up demand numbers here and there throughout the summer and that's going to influence price."
He added that exactly how much prices will rise is uncertain but that he could see it going into the low $3 range and doesn't expect it to go above $3.25 on average.
As the prices increase, some Republicans see a window to knock the Biden administration.
How Joe Biden's speech to Congress differs from past presidential addresses
Things will look a lot different during the annual presidential address, from COVID-19 guidelines to history being made behind the podium.The address, which technically is not called the State of the Union, will be the first time a U.S. president speaks to both houses of Congress since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as former President Donald Trump delivered his last State of the Union on Feb. 4, 2020.
Asked whether he believes Republicans will use the rising prices to criticize Biden, Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) said, "I don't think we're going to have to say a word."
"I think consumers, just Americans across the board, are going to do it," he added.
"Any time you have smart policy that lowers costs for families, that's something that benefits our economy and benefits people," House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told The Hill. "What President Biden's done has reversed that and it's leading to higher prices that people are paying at the pump."
Some of Biden's energy policies that the party has been particularly critical of are the decision to effectively nix the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would've carried oil from Canada to the U.S., and the administration's temporary pause on new oil and gas leasing on public lands.
The Energy Department's statistics agency has found that the leasing pause will have "no effects" until next year.
Why President Joe Biden's speech to Congress was unlike any other in modern history
A joint sessions speech, known for its glad-handing cadence, was bound to be subdued with only 200 folks permitted at an event that can hold 1,500.President Joe Biden's address to a joint session of Congress was unlike any in modern history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With no more than 200 folks permitted for an event that can hold up to 1,500, an event known for its glad-handing cadence and rousing moments was destined to be subdued.
But Graves argued that while the actions themselves may not be having such a big impact, the signals they send about the future of fossil fuels are worth considering.
"Some of the executive orders coming out of the gate by this administration sent a really powerful signal to markets," he said.
Hitting Democrats on gas prices is a familiar line of attack for the GOP, which also sought to blame former President Obama for gas prices that rose under his administration and which occurred amid the economic rebound from the recession.
However, Obama hit back, saying in 2012 that, "It's the easiest thing in the world [to] make phony election-year promises about lower gas prices."
"What's harder is to make a serious, sustained commitment to tackle a problem that may not be solved in one year or one term or even one decade," he added.
Despite Obama's subsequent reelection, some Republicans still see this strategy as successful.
"Whenever people see a high price at the pump, there's a negative reaction to that," said Republican strategist Doug Heye. "It's a sign of a rebounding economy, but people still feel that pinch when they go to the pump, and that's what they react to."
Fact check: Biden's speech had an estimated 26.9 million viewers
The president’s first address to Congress had 26.9 million viewers, not 11.6 million as claimed in a social media post.An April 29 Facebook post from James T. Harris, a conservative radio host and social media personality, lists television ratings for five past presidential addresses — four from former President Donald Trump and one from Biden. The post says Biden’s address to Congress had only 11.6 million viewers, compared to 37.2 million viewers for Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech.
"The reality is, when there are rising gas prices, people are going to be critical of the party that's in power," he said. "At a time when you've got a president who has a high popularity and an infrastructure plan that is popular, if not known in the details, this is a natural place for them to go."
However, some argued that criticizing Biden for rising prices is actually criticizing him for improving the economy.
"If they blame him for rising gas prices, they're really blaming him for economic success," De Haan said. "The two go part and parcel. If you're going to blame the president for rising gas prices, you're really giving the president credit for leading to an economy where gasoline demand would be so much higher."
The president's allies are expected to hit back on criticism by pointing to the COVID-19 recovery and policies that have put more money in peoples' pockets.
"I just have trouble imagining that these kinds of attacks might stick," said Ari Drennen, a spokesperson for the left-leaning Center for American Progress think tank. "Right now, Americans are thinking about getting back to work, they're thinking about getting back to school, they're thinking about seeing loved ones again."
"Ordinary people have more money in their pockets right now thanks to the investments that President Biden has made and no thanks to Republicans in Congress," she added, referring to the president's stimulus package.
And some argued they don't see gas prices becoming a major issue of the Biden presidency.
"What the American public is evaluating this president and the administration on are: Are we creating more jobs? Are people back to work? Are schools reopening? Are people getting vaccinated? Is the pandemic waning or not?" said Josh Freed, who leads the center-left think tank Third Way's climate and energy program.
"The answer in all of those is a resounding yes," Freed said.
Fact check: Viral image of plastic bags filled with gas is from 2019 .
An image claiming to show gas-filled plastic bags amid the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline was actually taken in 2019 in Mexico.The 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of fuel for the East Coast, shut down on May 7 following a ransomware attack by a hacking group called DarkSide. Pipeline operations resumed on May 12.