CNBC host Becky Quick pressed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the White House’s victory lap over a slight decline in gas prices Wednesday.
Quick questioned Buttigieg on White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein recently crediting President Joe Biden for an approximate $.50 decline in gas prices. The Transportation Secretary admitted the challenge is not over, but the administration is making strides to ease the price at the pump.
“There have been White House representatives out this week kind of taking a victory lap saying prices are down at the pump, that is surely the case but I just wonder how concerned you should be about taking a victory lap yet,” Quick said. “Most Wall Street analysts are anticipating that we will see higher energy prices, in fact, oil prices, above $100 a barrel at this point … if prices go back up, do you then have to take blame for the higher prices if you take a victory lap now?”
“Look, no one’s out here saying ‘mission accomplished,’ we just want to make sure it’s understood that the measures the president and the administration have taken to help to reduce the price of oil seem to be having an effect,” Buttigieg said. “We all know that no administration, no policy maker, no president directly controls the price of gas or the price of oil but there have been a number of measures we think are helping.”
The national average currently stands at $4.467 per gallon, according to AAA data. The price slightly decreased from the previous month, when the average price cost hit $4.981 per gallon.
“This is an encouraging sign, among a number of encouraging signs, across our supply chains and our economic indicators even if we recognize we still got a lot of challenges from shock waves that continue from the colossal effect, from the pandemic, to destabilizing events like the unprovoked war against Ukraine by Russia which is obviously several months underway but still something with profound economic and strategic implications,” Buttigieg said.
Quick asked about the limit to which the president can release oil barrels from the Strategic Oil Reserve to ease the costs of gas. The Transportation Secretary said the decision to tap the Reserve “contributed” to the slight decline in oil prices, but there will have to be a decision about when to buy back into it.
The drop in gas prices is largely due to the decreased demand and growing fears of recession.