CNBC anchor Becky Quick grilled Biden Cabinet member Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday as to whether the White House was premature in “taking a victory lap” over a recent decline in gas prices.
Quick asked Buttigieg, the Transportation Secretary, if the White House was prepared to take the blame if prices rise again later this summer. Oil prices, a key input for retail gas prices, is still trading above $102 per barrel.
“There have been White House representatives out this week taking a victory lap, saying prices are down at the pump,” Quick said. “That is surely the case, but I just wonder how concerned you should be about taking a victory lap yet. Most Wall Street analysts are anticipating that we will see higher energy prices.”
“If prices go back up, do you then have to take blame for the higher prices you take a victory lap now?” she asked.
Buttigieg noted the White House is aware that gas prices are still too high.
“No one’s out here saying ‘mission accomplished,’” Buttigieg said. “We just want to make that it’s understood that the measures the president and the administration have taken to help to reduce the price of oil seem to be having an effect.”
“We all know that no administration, no policymaker, no president directly controls the price of gas or the price of oil,” he added.
AFP via Getty Images
Buttigieg said it was “encouraging” that gas has fallen below $4 per gallon in “most states.”
The national average gas price hit $4.467 per gallon as of Wednesday, a decline of more than 50 cents from a record high of $5.016 per gallon on June 14. However, prices are still well above where they were one year ago, when a gallon at the pump cost $3.166.
Despite the steep costs still facing American motorists, White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein and others have touted the administration’s efforts to combat gas prices that helped drive inflation to a four-decade high of 9.1% in June.
Bernstein described the recent downtick as “one of the fastest declines in retail gas prices in a decade.” Meanwhile, a post Biden’s official Twitter account attributed the improvement to the president’s release of oil from the strategic US reserve…