President Joe Biden is reportedly set to release 14 million more barrels of oil from the federal government’s stockpile.
That last batch of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve could bring down creeping gas prices.
Lower prices won’t just be good for wallets — they might bolster Democrats’ chances to win the midterms.
President Joe Biden is once again stepping in to try and curb soaring gas prices, as Americans feel the pinch of higher prices and turn away from Democrats as the midterm elections approach.
According to Reuters, Biden is expected to release 14 million more barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). It’s another effort to help bring down gas prices, which have skyrocketed due to a confluence of reduced oil production in the US alongside Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The reported move from Biden comes after gas prices began creeping up again at the end of September, another strain on Americans’ wallets as inflation rose to 8.2% and core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, reached a 40-year high.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in early October that the administration was not considering new releases from the SPR. But now more seem to be coming.
The federal government has already put over 125 million barrels from the reserve on the market, which the Department of Treasury estimated would bring down prices on a gallon of gas by $0.17 to $0.42. Per Reuters, the latest release would fulfill the administration’s pledge to release 180 million barrels from the reserves between May and October. Even more could be on the way in fiscal year 2023, according to Reuters.
Already, the potential move has rattled the oil market, with commodity prices tumbling on Tuesday. The average gas price is still about 20 cents a gallon higher than it was a month ago, according to AAA’s gas price tracker, but it’s already fallen five cents since last week to $3,870. The Energy Information Administration also sees a slight dip in prices since last week, although prices went up for those filling up their cars on the East Coast.
Releasing millions of barrels of oil is an astute political move as economic pressures grow. Voters are increasingly concerned about the state of the economy, and polling from the New York Times/Siena College finds that could spell gloomy midterms election results for Democrats. The economy consistently ranks at the top of the list of concerns for voters, and, according to the Times, those who are most concerned about it are also leaning Republican.
The fate of the midterm elections will determine if Democrats can cling to their razor-thin majority, which is far from certain right now. Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the most prominent voices among the left, said that Democrats should focus in part on the economy leading up to the elections. Should Republicans retake the House, they plan on preserving Trump’s tax cuts for the rich and potentially paring down funding for programs like Social Security and Medicare.
What remains to be seen is if bringing down gas prices — a persistent concern among Americans, who still live in a heavily car-dependent society — might swing things towards Democrats.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism