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Biden asks Congress to suspend taxes on gasoline

The president denies that his energy policies have reduced oil production, which he said is above the average that existed with his predecessor

Gasoline is for the summer. That is why Joe Biden wants the taxes on it to be the first to go on vacation, but he also knows that it will not happen. The proposal that he launched this Wednesday to lower the price of gasoline, on the eve of the legislative elections in November, has as little chance of succeeding in Congress as his party at the polls, as long as inflation continues to be the highest in last 40 years.

14 years ago, when the Republican Party also proposed it on the eve of the elections, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama categorically opposed it, calling it an “accounting trick” to please the electorate. Not surprisingly, the opposition is now repeating his words to his former vice president. Biden is desperate to show Americans that the problems they face when they reach for their wallets at the grocery store or gas station are not their fault. The fault, he insisted over and over again, lies with Putin, whose name he repeated eleven times. The White House even took the unusual step of inserting footage of the invasion on all televisions as a background to the president.

“Let’s remember how we got here. Putin invaded Ukraine, those are the facts. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine this year the price of gasoline has risen two dollars per gallon », he recalled. «I already warned that we would pay a price for it at gas stations, in addition to military weapons. We could have looked the other way, but we would have done wrong.

Suspending the 80 cents per gallon that the federal government levies on fuel for three months would be an unprecedented measure that would hardly be noticeable in the pockets of motorists, among other things because there are no guarantees that oil companies and gas stations will pass that entire savings on to the consumer. Several Republican legislators have asked for proof that this would be the case, also knowing that it is impossible.

Biden asked states to do the same with their taxes “to give families a little bit of relief,” but Connecticut and New York have already done so, taking an average of 30 cents per gallon off unnoticed. In Minnesotta, the governor has proposed using part of the surplus to send home a gas check. Economists warn that this could increase demand and therefore the price would continue to rise, which is why some recommend letting market forces act, which already push motorists to modify their behavior, in a country where public transport is almost inexistent. That could bring about the contraction in the economy that the Biden administration is trying to avoid for fear of a recession.

The president denied this Wednesday that his energy policies have reduced oil production, which he said is above the average that existed with his predecessor, reaching 12 million barrels per day this month. In addition, his government is putting into circulation one million more barrels a day, from strategic reserves, and has convinced other countries to join up to a total of 240 million barrels. With his next visit to Saudi Arabia, he will try to convince this country to increase supply, while promoting the sale of ethanol, “which this summer will be at the lowest price in thousands of gas stations in the US,” he promised.

“The problem is in the refineries,” he said, “some of which closed during the pandemic.” That is why last week he wrote a letter to the CEOs of the major oil companies asking them to work with his government to bring “practical ideas and short-term steps” to the table. The desperate plea is “let’s all work on this together,” he pleaded.

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