MSNBC host Willie Geist told the director of the White House National Economic Council (NEC) on “Morning Joe” Friday that Americans are not blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for soaring gas prices.
“Brian, it’s true of course that Russia’s war in Ukraine is impacting oil prices, yes. But I promise you, the landscaper two days ago I talked to at the gas pump who was trying to fill up two cans and backpack blowers and mowers in his truck was not going ‘damn you, Putin.’ So what do you say to him? What do you say to families who can’t afford all their groceries right now?”
The NEC director, Brian Deese, said the price of gas, which exceeded $5 per gallon Thursday, is “hitting families hard.” He then said gas prices have increased by $1.70 since Putin amassed troops at the Ukrainian border.
“That is the impact of war. It’s not fun, nobody likes it. But we have to stand against that aggression,” Deese replied. “So then the real issue is what can we do to blunt those increases and what can we do to get relief to families. And the thing I would say to them is that you have a president who is focused on saying ‘how can I blunt the increase in gas prices, how can I blunt the increase in oil prices but also how can I bring down the other costs that they’re looking at when they’re trying to figure out their monthly budget.”
He pointed to the administration’s goal to bring down the costs of utility bills and prescription drugs to give them relief during the ongoing surge in oil and gas prices.
“There are things that we can do on that front, but it’s not the only place that we should be focused,” Deese said.
The average price of gas officially exceeded $5 per gallon Thursday after an ongoing record surge in recent months. Average diesel prices reached an all-time high of $5.16 per gallon in late April. Last month, the average price soared to $4.52 per gallon and diesel hit $5.57 a gallon.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached 8.6% in May, climbing to the highest rates in four decades, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
President Joe Biden’s administration has pinned rising prices on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, dubbing it “Putin’s Price Hike.” Lawmakers and members of the media have pushed back against the White House for pinning the Russian invasion for gas prices as average costs surged to their highest levels since 2014 in mid-November, months before the war in Ukraine. (RELATED: CNN’s Jake Tapper Cuts Off White House Adviser Attempting To Pin Putin For High Gas Prices)
Republican lawmakers have suggested that Democrats are intentionally allowing prices to surge in order to guide Americans toward purchasing electric vehicles. Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Democrats “like” the surging prices of gas in a May interview with Fox News.
“I think there are people in their party that actually like it,” he said. “They’re not gonna say it because they don’t want to get crushed in the next election although I believe they will be. But they like the fact that there’s inflation and high prices. They believe the more expensive oil and gas gets, the more people are gonna buy electric cars. Well, not everyone can afford an electric car right now, we don’t have enough electric cars, and the batteries for those electric cars are made in China. Look, these guys, they want this.”