With the steady increase in gas prices over the past few months, the Biden Administration and the liberal media routinely stated that the prices were not the President’s fault and he could not do anything to change them. But on Monday’s CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera, a different story is painted as declining gas prices were suddenly the result of Biden rolling up his sleeves. Never the villain, always the hero.
Amos Hochstein, a Biden energy advisor, joined Cabrera on Monday afternoon as they discussed these decreases in prices and Biden’s role in it all.
Cabrera asked Hochstein about the comparison between this year’s gas price, currently an average of $4.50, and last year’s gas price averaging $3.17. “Is [the goal of] $4 as good as it gets?” she asked, teeing him up for a rosy projection.
“Look, last year was before we had a war in Ukraine, before the amassing of troops and including the third largest oil producer, Russia, as a player in a war. So clearly we ran through and have come through some very difficult times in the energy markets as a result of that. And the President took a lot of steps over the last six months to be able to alleviate the price,” Hochstein responded the same routine answer that the public had been hearing constantly.
This time, he also added in what the President had been doing for months to reduce the price at the pump. That Biden had “released a million barrels a day from the strategic petroleum reserve,” stating that “that’s the most anyone has ever done.”
In addition, Hochstein suggested their tough talk was winning the day, saying, “we’re holding the industry accountable… we’ve told them we want them to bring down the prices. And I think, so far that’s working.”
According to Hochstein, analysts that were reporting on prices rising were “trying to scare the American public,” as he so cheerfully encouraged Cabrera to “focus on the achievements that we have made as a country and be more confident with where we are going.”
On CNN’s Don Lemon Tonight last month, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struggled to defend the continuously rising gas prices and the economic plunge.
In an effort to keep his good reputation, Pierre noted, “we got to remember, we got to remember, we’re thinking about gas prices and food. This is coming from Putin’s war against Ukraine. The moment that Putin amassed forces on the border of Ukraine, we saw from then until now, we have seen a $2 increase per gallon of gas.”
This encapsulates the narrative. Rising prices weren’t because of Biden’s runaway spending and cutting of domestic production, but he’s suddenly the hero by nibbling at the margins.
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Click "expand" to read full transcript.
CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera
1:32:32 p.m. Eastern
ANA CABRERA: Americans are finally experiencing some modest relief at the gas pump. The price of a gallon has gone down 34 days in a row now. The national average is currently at $4.52 a gallon. Still high, yes, but we are beginning to hear an optimistic refrain from the Biden administration about a $4 future.
(Cut to video)
BRIAN DEESE, W.H. ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We should continue to see retail gas prices at the pump fall for through the rest of the month and hopefully will get down closer to that $4-a-gallon number nationwide.
AMOS HOCHSTEIN: I expect it to come down more towards $4 and we already have many gas stations around the country that are below $4.
(Cut to live)
CABRERA: I'm joined now by that key Biden energy advisor you just saw, State Department senior advisor for Global Energy Security, Amos Hochstein. Thanks so much, Amos, for coming in.
For perspective, a year ago we were averaging $3.17 a gallon, so is that a realistic expectation for us? Is $4 as good as it gets?
HOCHSTEIN: Well, first, thank you for having me. It's good to be here in person.
Look, last year was before we had a war in Ukraine, before the amassing of troops and including the third largest oil producer, Russia, as a player in a war. So clearly we ran through and have come through some very difficult times in the energy markets as a result of that. And the President took a lot of steps over the last six months to be able to alleviate the price.
And, to do that, we have to bring down the price of oil itself. And, just a month ago, oil prices were over $120 a barrel. That was before we announced our trip to the Middle East. Today, prices are at about $100, $101 a barrel so that's a 20 percent drop. And the President put a lot of pressure on the refineries, on the oil companies, on the gas stations to say, when the oil prices go down, make the gasoline at the pump go down as fast as the oil prices have come down.
And so that's what we've seen. And I’ll tell you, you're right, the average is about $4.52, so $.50 lower than it was a few weeks ago, but most Americans, the most common price today in America is already below $4. I expect that to go down a little bit further as a result of the actions that we're taking.
CABRERA: How quickly will we see, I guess, what could become the low?
HOCHSTEIN: You know, that's very difficult to tell. I don't want to make a prediction on dates. We're going to continue to take action. That is to make sure that in the United States there's enough production of resources so we have enough oil on the market that our allies around the world are doing what they have to do, producers around the world do what they have to do and meet the responsibility of a producer during a time of war in Europe. And then to make sure that domestically that we have gasoline prices that reflect those true prices and to bring them down as much as we can.
And look at the steps that we've taken already. The President has released a million barrels a day from the strategic petroleum reserve. That’s the most anyone has ever done. And we’ve done that in order to give breathing room to the industry, to bring that up.
But we’re not- but we're holding the industry accountable. We sent them a letter, we’ve met with them, we've told them we want them to bring down these prices. And I think, so far that's working. Now, we have to do some things on the domestic side inside the United States. But you can't just do that, you have to act internationally as well with producers and our allies.
CABRERA: And so before we talk about the international peace there, I do want to just follow up, though, because there are some energy analysts who believe that gas prices could start going back up come the fall, even around the midterms, which obviously would be bad timing politically for the Biden administration and for Democrats in particular. But, I just wonder what makes you confident those gas prices are going to keep going down?
HOCHSTEIN: Well, I don't make prediction long-term of where things are going. I never know what's going to happen in the world and in the market. We’re going to keep doing– the President wants us to keep doing whatever we can on a day-to-day basis make sure that there are prices that are lower and lower for the American consumer, while taking the fight to Putin and making sure he doesn't have the revenues to execute a war of horrific consequences in Ukraine.
We have to do both of those things at the same time. The confidence comes from the fact that I think that our – the work that the President is doing internationally combined with what he's doing domestically, I think, is answering that need. And that's why we're seeing these low prices.
Just remember, Ana, just a few weeks ago we had banks in the United States predicting that gasoline prices would go to $6 this summer and $7. They were predicting $300 or $180 for oil this summer and by the end of the year. And, now those same analysts are now saying, “prices are down but they're going to go up later.”
It's always trying to scare the American public. And instead, let's just focus on the achievements that we have made as a country and be more confident with where we're going. And, $4 is not good enough but it's a lot better than where it was a few weeks ago.
CABRERA: It is. It is better.
You were just with the President in Saudi Arabia where he had that meeting with the Crown Prince, MBS. I know oil and energy prices and supply specifically was on the agenda to talk about. Did the President walk away with any new promises from Saudi Arabia when it comes to all things energy?
HOCHSTEIN: Look, the trip was about a lot of things. Right? This was a very strategically important trip to make sure that we don't leave a vacuum in the Middle East for China and Russia to come into the Middle East.
This was a trip that achieved -- we took a historic flight just arriving in Saudi Arabia, where the President was the first President to fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia. That has never been done. Announcing opening of the skies to Israeli aircraft over Saudi Arabia has never been done before. And importantly, that a cease-fire in Yemen after seven years and thousands of people dying, this is the longest cease-fire we've seen and announcing that Saudi Arabia agreed to extend that. So, these are really important issues as we confront a nuclear Iran even.
But clearly in an energy crisis that we're facing in Europe, high prices in the United States and a war in Europe that Russia -- since the invasion of Russia in Ukraine, clearly energy comes up in these conversations. And before the President even agreed – announced his trip to Saudi Arabia and to the Middle East, days before, a week or two before, we saw OPEC already then taking a critical step for the first time in nine months to change their attitude and to say we're going to increase production.
CABRERA: Right. And they have since then.
HOCHSTEIN: And they have.
CABRERA: They said they were going to increase for July and August.
HOCHSTEIN: That's right.
CABRERA: But that's why I'm wondering if that meeting pushed things forward. Not from what they said, but did he secure any new promises?
HOCHSTEIN: Well, I think as we met with Saudi Arabia, we met with the gulf countries. We didn't meet with OPEC. So, let's give it a few weeks and see in a few – over the next several weeks and months. I believe we have a common understanding now between the President of the United States and producers in OPEC that we have to make sure that the U.S. and the global economy has enough oil to supply us with what we need to make sure the global economy continues to grow and the U.S. economy continues to grow.
And I believe that we have reached those understandings, and I think that I have every confidence that we'll see actions taken over the next several weeks and months that are now in accordance. And that's why we have to do this kind of work. Sometimes it's very difficult but we've got to do this work. It doesn't always yield results on the same day or the day after, but it does yield results.
CABRERA: Well, I appreciate you coming in, thank you so much.
HOCHSTEIN: Happy to be here.
CABRERA: Amos Hochstein. Good to have you here, I hope we can continue the conversation.