As gas prices have surged in recent days following a months-long downward trend, the Biden administration is in panic mode to protect Democrats' electoral prospects in the upcoming midterm elections, according to a Tuesday report from the Washington Post.
The White House has reportedly grilled oil executives in private meetings and threatened to take unprecedented and economically disruptive executive action to bring gas prices down.
The Biden administration may exercise emergency authority to limit gas exports, which would boost domestic supply, according to the Post. Such a move could jeopardize global markets and inflict further pain in Europe, which is facing a more dire energy crisis.
The scramble within the White House to cut consumers' costs at the pump comes as the midterm elections are just over a month away, and inflation and economic issues are on the top of voters' minds. The White House has staked much of its claim to competence in economic policy on its job influencing gas prices—when gas prices declined for three months this summer after reaching record highs in June, President Joe Biden touted the "progress" his administration made in working to bring prices down.
Several states expected to play a pivotal role in deciding control of the House and Senate have seen a massive increase in gas prices in the past week. In one week, prices rose 62 cents per gallon in California, nearly 40 cents in Arizona, and more than 40 cents in Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, according to the Post.
Experts who spoke to the Post attributed the Biden administration's attempts to influence the gas market to a desire to protect Democrats' control of Congress.
"After this president has taken an unusually active role in telling American drivers his administration is going to try to keep prices low, the fact that they are rising creates political jeopardy," said Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners.
Ben Cahill, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Post the White House's efforts might actually backfire—pressuring oil companies to boost their gas inventories could raise prices on the global market and hurt U.S. consumers.
"I think the move would backfire," Cahill said. "It could lead to shortages on the global market and drive prices higher on the East Coast and elsewhere in the U.S."