White House energy adviser defends taking credit for falling gas prices despite Putin blaming rise
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Biden’s economic adviser Amos Hochstein was forced to confront conflicting accounts from the White House in an interview Wednesday when asked about the administration’s rush to take credit for falling gas prices, despite being repeatedly blamed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and oil executives when prices were high.
White House officials are touting their efforts to successfully lower gasoline prices after the national average fell to $4.16 from $4.81 last month.
Fox News host John Roberts asked Hochstein during an interview on “America Reports” if it was right for administration officials to take ownership of lower gasoline prices after spending months of blaming Russia for their rise and insisting it was out of their control.
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“The war in Ukraine is still raging and prices are going down. What about the idea that it was Putin’s price hike?” Roberts asked.
Hochstein rejected critics’ suggestion that Putin’s war argument was “a mistake”.
“Prices started to rise as soon as Putin started intervening in Europe,” he said, arguing that the Russian leader was responsible for dispersing global energy markets. “The main price increase took place when Putin started intervening in the markets in the early fall of last year, and long before the invasion, when he started increasing security bonuses, those have increased.”
Hochstein said the argument that prices were already rising under President Biden before Putin disrupted markets is “actually not true.”
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“Why are they going down if the war is raging? That’s a great question,” he said. “The answer is because we’ve actually taken many different steps to bring prices down. Unfortunately, we live in a time where we want instant gratification that when you take an action you see the reaction immediately – sometimes it takes time in the market.”
Hochstein credited Biden’s decision to exploit the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and engage US allies to pump more oil for the drop of nearly 50 cents per gallon over the past 30 days.
“All the actions put in place have this impact,” he said. “We want them to go further, but there’s no doubt that the steps we’ve taken are part of the reason these prices are coming down.”
Biden himself has touted the price drop, calling it the ‘quickest drop in over a decade’ – although critics say the drop itself was negligible as prices are still high relative to the numbers under former President Donald Trump.
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Hochstein said comparing gas prices today to what they were a year ago — nearly a dollar less per gallon — is unfair because demand for gas increased dramatically once COVID regulations has been relaxed.
“And at the same time,” he told Roberts, “I just want to remind you that six weeks ago most of the headlines in the news were saying that oil prices were going to go up again and that the gasoline was going to increase.”
While the White House would like “to see them come down,” Hochstein said, “there is no doubt that the trajectory of oil and gasoline prices is in the right place.”