Biden economic adviser Amos Hochstein was forced to confront the White House’s conflicting narratives during an interview on Wednesday when he was asked about the administration’s rush to take credit for lower gas prices, despite repeatedly blaming Putin and oil executives when prices were high.
White House officials are touting their efforts to successfully lower gas prices after the national average dropped to $4.16, down from $4.81 last month.
Fox News host John Roberts asked Hochstein during an interview on “America Reports” whether it was fair for administration officials to own the decreasing gasoline prices after spending months blaming Russia for their rise and insisting it was out of their control.
“The war in Ukraine is still raging and prices are coming down. What about the idea that this was Putin’s price hike?” Roberts asked.
Hochman rejected the suggestion from critics that the Putin war argument was “a fallacy.”
“The prices started going up as soon as Putin started intervening in Europe,” he said, maintaining that the Russian leader is to blame for scattering global energy markets. “The main increase in prices was when Putin started to intervene in the markets in the early fall of last year, and long before the invasion, when he started increasing the security premiums, those went up.”
Hochstein said that the argument that prices were already rising under President Biden prior to Putin’s disruption of the markets is “factually not true.”
“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 a lot of different actions to bring the prices down. Unfortunately, we live in an era where we want instant gratification that when you take an action you see the reaction immediately, sometimes it takes time in the market.”
“All the actions put together are having that impact,” he said. “We want them to go further, but there’s no doubt that the action we have taken are part of the reason these prices are coming down.”
Biden himself touted the fall in prices, calling it “the fastest decline in over a decade” – though critics say the drop itself was negligible because prices are still elevated compared to figures under Trump.
Hochman said the comparison between gas prices now and what they were a year ago – nearly a dollar less per gallon – is unfair because demand for gas significantly increased once COVID regulations were eased.
“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 that oil prices were going to go further up and gasoline was going to go up.
While the White House would “like to see them lower,” Hochman said “there’s no doubt that the trajectory of oil and gasoline prices are in the right place.”