by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
On Sunday the American Institute for Economic Research published my piece on “Joe Biden’s Gasoline Saga,” which called out the president and his administration for pretending it’s a great thing we’re struggling with extremely high gasoline prices. Why? Because they think it’ll cause people to rush out and buy electric vehicles (EVs).
At a joint press conference May 24 following his meeting with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan, Biden was asked about “enormously high gas prices” and whether Americans should “be prepared for a recession.” Biden answered no, citing in part the promise of new jobs from transitioning away from gasoline. …
“Here’s the situation,” Biden said. “And when it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over.”
The belief that exorbitant prices are good because it means people will change their entire way of life is one of the responses in the Biden administration’s rotation of pat responses to high gas prices, along with such things as blaming Putin and corporate greed. It was perhaps best displayed by the just-so smugness of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s November 28, 2021, comments to MSNBC that families who own electric vehicles [EVs] “will never have to worry about gas prices again.”
On Tuesday yet another Biden administration official was seen touting this line. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm talked about how high gas prices made “a very compelling case” for buying an EV. She seemed to realize how awful she sounded mid-ramble, because she immediately pivoted back to trying to assuage drivers that, no, really, the administration cares and wants to do something about high gas prices:
“If you filled up your EV and you filled up your gas tank with gasoline, you would save $60 per fill-up by going electric rather than using gasoline but it’s a very compelling case,
but again, we want to bring down the price at the point of purchase.”
As I wrote in AIER,
Higher prices for gasoline and diesel mean it will cost people more than before to go places. They also mean that it will cost more to transport and produce goods, so people will also have to pay more for food, clothing, and other wants and needs. Our purchasing power has fallen. We are measurably worse off, especially the poorest among us who have fewer “luxury” items to sacrifice for necessities. But we’re all having to make choices we otherwise would never make.
Regardless of what the President says, this is not making us stronger and better off. It’d be one thing if EV makers were winning customers in the time-honored way of producing better goods at lower prices (bearing in mind that people’s time is also a cost).
But in the warped view of the Biden administration, the only way for people to see EVs as preferable to their gas-powered cars is to make gasoline prohibitively expensive. It shows how unpopular their “less reliance on fossil fuels” actually is, and that they know it. It bespeaks an “incredible transition” in the same way that “if you were the last man on earth” predicts masculine irresistibility. …
Also in real life, regardless of any benefits to EV makers, people will suffer great loss if gasoline prices drive them to the point of replacing their perfectly drivable gas-powered vehicles — which are expensive capital investments — with even more expensive EVs. Biden thinks such a “transition” would be “incredible.” For the vast majority of us, it would be terrible.