by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joe Biden has been abusing his authority as president to aid his party in the midterm elections. We know, we know — we need to be more specific. This time, it’s the abuse of his powers as commander in chief in negotiating with Saudi Arabia and in drawing down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Democrats have a gas-price problem. High gas prices are the most visible sign of inflation, as well as a driver of inflation in the prices of many goods. The average price of a gallon of regular gas is $3.87, and while that is down from the historic high of $5.02 in June, it is still noticeably higher than the $3.33 price of a year ago or the $3.68 price of a month ago. Biden bet heavily on the decline after June’s high as proof that inflation was over, so the recent spike has driven the White House into a panic with only three weeks until Election Day. Moreover, the obvious solution to high gas prices — increasing domestic production — is ideologically anathema to the people around the president.
What Biden is pursuing instead is any avenue to temporarily increase supply just until Election Day. The one domestic lever he has is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was designed in 1975 to ensure adequate fuel supply for the military and essential industries in case of a foreign conflict that interrupts the flow of oil — say, a conflict with Russia. Presidents have too often treated the SPR as a piggy bank to soften gas-price spikes at politically inconvenient times, but never at the scale that Biden is doing now.
Biden is set to announce this week more releases of oil from the SPR, following similar announcements in early October, and nobody has the slightest illusion as to why.