To Katie Tubb, President Joe Biden’s plan couldn’t be any more obvious going into the midterms.
Instead of taking the necessary steps to reduce oil prices, in her view, Biden is dumping the government’s strategic petroleum reserve in order to win support for Democrats.
In October, Biden announced the planned release of 15 million additional SPR barrels in December. The administration already extended SPR releases past the expected end date of Oct. 31.
“There [are] congressionally defined purposes for the SPR … and political polling support is not one of them,” Tubb, a researcher for The Heritage Foundation, told The Western Journal. “The SPR does not exist to help any president of any party do better in the polls, and it’s embarrassing that that’s how that’s being used.”
The SPR Won’t Drive Prices, But It Could Drive Democratic Voters
In her work, Tubb deals with issues related to energy, climate, the environment and public policy that affects those areas.
If reducing oil prices was the Biden administration’s genuine goal, there is a whole host of domestic policies it could be implementing, Tubb said.
But, thanks to Biden’s commitment to limit CO2 emissions, the current administration is opposed to such solutions. This leaves the country dependent on an incredibly volatile global market, Tubb noted. In such a scenario, releasing SPRs is “utterly ineffective.”
While Americans use roughly 19.7 to 19.8 million barrels of petroleum per day, the Biden administration has only been releasing about 1 million per day from the SPR — “just a drop in the bucket,” according to Tubb.
“I do think November elections are influencing some of the decision-making,” she said.
“The fact that a million barrels per day for six months happened to run out before November and then all of a sudden the White House says, ‘Oh, we’re going to release 10 million more barrels through November’ — that does not smell right to me. That doesn’t add up in a logical response other than elections are coming up.”
“To me, those stars align too conveniently,” Tubb said. “I think most Americans see the incongruence of President Biden’s energy policy.”
While this strategy may have no effect on bottom-line prices, it could still benefit Democrats come Nov. 8.
As The Washington Post pointed out, the release of SPR barrels has a psychological effect on American voters. “Americans can feel like their government is doing something to drive down energy costs, and Biden gets to appear as if he’s taking concrete action to help Americans afford gas — just a few weeks before Election Day,” the Post reported.
If Biden wants to win votes, focusing on oil prices makes sense.
According to polls from the Pew Research Center and ABC News/Ipsos, the top issues for voters heading into the midterm elections are the economy and inflation. Furthermore, according to CNN, the fall of gas prices this summer correlated with a respective rise in support for Democrats.
Bribing Young People
Critics of the president have also pointed to his plan to forgive thousands of dollars of student debt — in some cases as much as $20,000 per borrower — as another example of the administration trying to buy votes.
According to Convention of States Action president Mark Meckler, Biden’s attempts to drain the reserves and forgive student debt are “the most blatant efforts ever to actually buy votes.”
Meckler’s organization collaborates regularly with the Trafalgar Group, one of the highest-rated pollsters in the country. From what he’s seen in the polls, these efforts aren’t going to pay off for Democrats.
“Their goal, of course, is to ignite a constituency, which would be young people with student loan debt. It’s not working for them or for anyone else. The polling shows that the Democrats are going to get wiped out in these midterms, proving that the attempt to buy votes on a large scale, in the face of daunting economic conditions for the average American, is not working,” Meckler said.
Meckler believes these policies are both dangerous and costly for Americans.
Biden’s Short-Term Plans Could Cost Americans in the Long Run
Indeed, it appears that many of Biden’s short-term strategies to allegedly win votes could result in a series of long-term consequences for voters.
For example, Meckler pointed out that “there is actually no such thing as forgiveness of student loans. There is simply the shifting of that debt burden from one group of people to another.”
Jason Furman, a Democratic economist and former Obama adviser, made the same point in an August interview with The Atlantic. In addition, Furman explained that the plan may actually raise the price of college for future generations.
“It will also raise college tuition, as colleges move to capture some of this spending. Our goal should be getting more people into college. It is not obvious that Biden’s plan helps with that goal. It might even hurt that goal,” Furman said.
Biden’s energy plans could carry similarly costly trade-offs.
For example, one expert told The New York Times that draining the SPR is a “risky policy” because it “can only last until the stockpiles are exhausted, and replenishing the stockpiles would take years.”
In addition to draining the nation’s petroleum reserves, behind closed doors, the Biden administration was reportedly considering a ban on all oil exports. According to a study from the Dallas Federal Reserve, this plan overlooks the fact that domestic gas prices are set by the global market. Restricting global supply, therefore, could actually increase domestic prices.
In recent days, Biden and other Democrats have placed the blame for rising prices at the feet of “big oil,” citing the high profits of domestic oil producers.
On Monday, the president revealed he would be working with Congress to explore higher taxes on such companies, which, according to Curtis Dubay, chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, may actually reduce energy production and cause a long-term rise in prices.
As Tubb pointed out, continued resistance to increasing domestic oil production could keep oil prices from falling. At best, Biden’s plan to drain the SPR will have little to no effect on those prices.
Although she couldn’t say for sure given the many relevant factors, Tubb’s best guess is that gas prices will yet again rise come winter.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.