GOP Clumsily – And Falsely – Tries To Blame Biden For High Gas, Lumber Prices
It’s indisputable that President Joe Biden has overseen a massively successful nationwide coronavirus vaccination rollout that has gotten shots into half of the population’s arms far sooner than anyone predicted was possible. So because House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and his GOP colleagues can’t fault the president for that effort, they falsely attacking him for two things that clearly are out of his control: gas and lumber prices.
With millions of Americans poised to hit the road over the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, the California Republican put out this blog post earlier this week: “Despite gas prices being at historic lows this time last year, the average price for a gallon of gas is currently an astounding $3.10. That’s the highest it’s been since 2014, the last time Joe Biden was in the White House.” Republicans on the House Budget Committee sent out this completely disingenuous tweet: “Biden’s policies have led to the highest gas prices in six years.”
The facts behind currently elevated gas prices are that demand has come roaring back faster and stronger than expected in no small measure because vaccinated Americans are now safe to un-quarantine and are returning to much of their pre-pandemic lifestyles. As McCarthy said, gas prices were low this time last year, but it was because people were staying home – not because of Trump administration policies.
There also is the lingering effect of the cyberattack that shut down the key Colonial Pipeline gasoline distribution network, which supplies almost half of the fuel consumed in the eastern part of the country. Even though it’s been back up and running for almost two weeks now, gas stations in a number of Southeast states continue to experience a lack of supply.
Another economic factor getting a good deal of media attention is the price of lumber, a condition that Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel tried to attribute to the Biden administration. She tweeted: “Lumber prices have increased 400%. We have real problems … (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi will do anything not to talk about the Biden failures.”
The fact is that lumber prices have spiked because in March of 2020, when the pandemic hit the United States, sawmills cut their output of lumber on the expectation that sales of new homes would slow and product demand would follow. The opposite happened. Americans who were now spending the majority of their time at home sought more room and either bought new, larger homes or renovated their current homes. That pushed up demand and prices for lumber, even as supply was reduced.