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CNBC grills Buttigieg about White House’s gas price ‘victory lap’

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CNBC anchor Becky Quick grilled Biden Cabinet member Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday as as to if 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, continues to be trading above $102 per barrel.

“There have been White House representatives out this week taking a victory lap, saying prices are down on the pump,” Quick said. “That is unquestionably the case, but I just wonder how concerned try to be about taking a victory lap yet. Most Wall Street analysts are anticipating that we’ll see higher energy prices.”

“If prices return up, do you then should take blame for the upper prices you are taking a victory lap now?” she asked.

Buttigieg noted the White Home is aware that gas prices are still too high.

Becky Quick noted the White House could face “blame” if gas prices rise again.CNBC

Becky Quick and Pete ButtigiegGas prices are still elevated in comparison with last yr.CNBC

“Nobody’s out here saying ‘mission completed,’” Buttigieg said. “We just intend to make that it’s understood that the measures the president and the administration have taken to assist to scale back the value of oil appear to be having an effect.”

“Everyone knows that no administration, no policymaker, no president directly controls the value of gas or the value of oil,” he added.

Gas pricesGas prices have fallen greater than 50 cents since mid-June.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 greater than 50 cents from a record high of $5.016 per gallon on June 14. Nonetheless, prices are still well above where they were one yr ago, when a gallon on 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.

Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg says the White House has not yet said “mission completed.”CNBC

Bernstein described the recent downtick as “certainly one of the fastest declines in retail gas prices in a decade.” Meanwhile, a post Biden’s official Twitter account attributed the development to the president’s release of oil from the strategic US reserve.

“Our actions are working, and costs are coming down,” Biden said.

I’ve been releasing about 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and rallied our global partners to release a combined 240 million barrels of oil onto the market.

Our actions are working, and costs are coming down. pic.twitter.com/5zrBPGvRJv

— President Biden (@POTUS) July 19, 2022

It’s still unclear how long the declines will last. Oil has fallen in recent weeks as investors worry that Federal Reserve rate hikes will trigger an economic slowdown, while a robust US dollar has weighed on demand for oil aboard, in response to Reuters.

Critics have argued that Biden’s tough stance against domestic energy firms has exacerbated the issue and questioned the long-term effectiveness of the administration’s moves, resembling a short lived federal gas tax holiday.

Meanwhile, most Americans are skeptical of Biden’s ability to tackle long-term inflation. A recent poll placed Biden’s economic approval rating at just 30%, a lower number than either of his presidential predecessors.

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