Washington Blame Games: Democrats Fault Trump For Spike in Gas Prices
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Washington Blame Games: Democrats Fault Trump For Spike in Gas Prices



It’s Memorial Day weekend. Gas prices are up. And Senate Democrats are blaming President Trump.

Some things never change.

You don’t have to travel too far outside the Beltway to find motorists who balk not only at the gas prices but also at the Washington blame game.

“He doesn’t do anything right in their eyes,” said Glenn Baughman, a Delaware resident who was filling up his pickup truck at a Royal Farms convenience store here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Still, he wasn’t happy with the higher prices at the pump. It happens every year, he said.

“They wait until the holiday weekend to jack up the prices,” said Mr. Baughman, 51, a project manager at an industrial paint company. “They are gouging people.”

The price of regular gasoline at this Royal Farms was $2.79 per gallon, creeping toward the national average of $2.96 per gallon that is the highest Memorial Day prices since 2014, according to AAA.

Senate Democrats accused Mr. Trump of helping drive up gasoline prices with what they call a “reckless agenda” that includes pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, which did cause a swing in world crude oil prices.

They touted Goldman Sachs senior economist Daan Struyven’s estimate that the drag on consumption from high gas prices “should roughly cancel out the 2018 consumption boost from tax cuts and is particularly large on the lower end of the income distribution.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer declared that Mr. Trump was “missing in action” when it came to fixing rising gasoline prices.

“President Trump and his administration are clearly more committed to helping pad the pockets of corporate executives and wealthy shareholders than helping middle-class families,” said the New York Democrat. “It is time for this president to stand up to OPEC on behalf of the forgotten man and woman he promised to remember and do what is necessary to lower gas prices.”

Senate Democrats sent Mr. Trump a letter demanding he takes action, including pressuring Saudi Arabia to get OPEC to keep prices down.

Public Citizen, a liberal consumer advocacy group, echoed the message with protest Friday at an Exxon station near the Capitol.

A 15-foot tall inflatable oil barrel and signs saying “Blame Trump at the Pump” caught the attention of motorist.

“Trump’s policies are costing the American families he pledged to protect,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “We know the industry is driving this policy. Trump could take steps to alleviate the strain on Americans’ wallets, but he is more interested in catering to industry demands.”

Whether the message resonates beyond the Democrats’ liberal base remains to be seen.

John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic said Americans are growing accustomed to seasonal spikes in gas prices and even higher prices in general.

“Gas prices always increase in the springtime and summer,” he said. “What is changing is the point at which consumers begin to balk at higher fuel prices.”

Part of the new gas-price psychology is the result of expensive gas during the Obama administration.

The longest streak in gasoline prices topping $3 recorded by AAA was 1,409 consecutive days from Dec. 23, 2010, to Nov. 1, 2014.

The highest annual national average gas price recorded by AAA was $3.60 per gallon in 2012.

A survey by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), which represents an industry that sells an estimated 80 percent of the fuel sold in the U.S., found the majority of Americans — 57 percent — expect gasoline prices to continue to rise.

Two-thirds of motorists say that they expect gas prices to rise in the next 30 days and a quarter say they expect prices to remain steady, with less than 10 percent believe that prices will drop, according to the survey.

NACS also found that, despite some belt-tightening due to higher gas prices, consumer optimism about the economy remains strong. About 60 percent say they are optimistic, down only 2 points from April and at the same level as in the same survey a year ago.

In the letter, Senate Democrats gave Mr. Trump an action plan that they said would get gas prices under control:

  •  Leverage his personal relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to urge Saudi Arabia to use their swing capacity to increase world oil supplies.
  •  Send Energy Secretary Rick Perry to the June 22 OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria, to personally lobby for maintaining stable crude oil prices.
  • Initiate World Trade Organization dispute proceedings against countries engaged in anti competitive practices that artificially inflate world oil prices.
  • Work with European allies and China to put pressure on oil-exporting nations.
  • Direct the Federal Trade Commission, Commodities Futures Trading Commission and the Department of Justice to exercise vigorous oversight over oil markets.
  • Maximize the use of more environmentally friendly and domestically produced bio fuel alternatives by protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • Abandon the administration’s plan to roll back fuel economy standards that otherwise will save the average car owner more than $6,000 over the life of the car and cut the nation’s oil consumption by over 2 million barrels per day by 2025.

The White House declined to respond.

Author: The Washington Times