Biden, Democrats, gasoline, Iran, Iran deal, Iran nuclear deal, JCPOA, oil, oil prices, Our So-Called Foreign Policy, rural areas, Russia, sanctions, taxes, Ukraine, Ukraine invasion, Ukraine-Russia war, Vladimir Putin
Maybe you readers can help me out here, because I am really confused about what President Biden and other Democrats are saying about the biggest political and ethical issues surrounding his Ukraine war-related decision to ban oil imports from Russia and its likely effect on gasoline prices.
On the one hand, Mr. Biden and his party have portayed the higher oil prices as a sacrifice that Americans should be proud to pay in order to support Ukraine’s unexpectedly stout resistance to the Russian invasion, and one that the nation will agree to pay.
On the other hand, these Democrats have taken to blaming the higher pump prices on the Russian aggression itself, to the point of pushing the social media hashtag #PutinPriceHike.
Unquestionably, the Russian dictator’s decisions are ultimately responsible for the recent shake up in the global oil market that’s driven up prices for oil and all its derivatives (like gasoline) the world over. But now that he’s taken these steps, it seems that some fundamental consistency should be displayed in the Democrats’ case for the response they favor. For example, they could tell the public something like, “Yes, our response to the Russian attack will raise the price of oil. But higher pump prices are a sacrifice we should be proud to make for the cause of global security and freedom.” Why haven’t they?
Something else noteworthy about the stance of the President and his party. The effect of higher oil prices is the epitome of a regressive tax. In other words, because Americans at all income levels will face the same percentage increase when they pump gasoline (and when they heat their homes, if they rely on oil). So the bite on household budgets is deepest for the poorest and shallowest for the richest of us.
Higher oil prices will also surely kneecap any Democratic hopes of improving their political performance in rural America. After all, residents of the nation’s small towns and farming areas use much oil for transportation than their urban counterparts. So do the enormous number of voters in the suburbs, who played such a big role in Mr. Biden’s victory in 2020.
And let’s not forget an mammoth irony about higher U.S. and world prices for oil – as well as natural gas, another major Russian export. As has been widely observed, without steps that dramatically reduce the volume of Russian sales globally, the more importers pay per barrel, the more revenue flows into Vladimir Putin’s treasury – and war machine. The same goes for Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, along with Iran if the President succeeds in his apparent aim of negotiating a deal aimed at preventing Tehran from building a nuclear weapon in part by lifting economic sanctions on its economy.
Whatever you think of President Biden’s approach to the Ukraine war, it should be clear that it can’t succeed for any length of time until firm support on the home front is secured. These unsolved puzzles and outright contradictions make clear how far his administration remains from achieving that essential goal.