Opinion: No Gas Price Relief Soon, But Enjoy the $1 Hot Dog
Four States Hompage is reporting that President Biden's administration is considering giving Americans gas rebate cards to help alleviate the high cost of driving this summer.
President Biden speaking on the beach near his Delaware vacation house said he's open to the idea of giving Americans gas rebate cards, as well as temporarily suspending the 18-cent per gallon gas tax. This is according to a CNN report cited by Four States Homepage. Biden also says his administration will be meeting with major oil and gas CEOs later this week so they explain how they can justify making $35 billion dollars in the first quarter.
The Four States report says a House Democratic counsel thinks the gas card rebate is pricy, poorly targeted, and might drive inflation. White House aides are also concerned that the microchip shortage could hamper making the rebate cards, and that it would be difficult to stop people from using the cards to buy something besides gasoline.
As for pausing the gasoline tax, Congress would need to act and that doesn't seem like something our elected officials are prepared to do. Us Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN that's one of the tools the President is considering and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said it was worth considering.
The rub from some in the administration reflects some Democrats' concerns that it won't provide significant relief, and retailers may just raise the base price of gasoline to make up the difference.
These are all good things to consider. I recently wrote an article outlining how much each of us would save if both Missouri and the federal gas tax were suspended. If you drive a pick up my calculations netted a savings of $216 dollars if both taxes were suspended from July through the end of the year. As a Kia Soul driver, I'd save $96 over the course of the rest of the year. And that is predicated on the fact that gas prices don't go further up. It's not much, but it's something.
I do see the point of not suspending the gas tax. That tax funds our roads and bridges, which are pretty bad to start with. Is it worth suspending the tax if each of us doesn't get significant relief, and it's harder to patch up our roads?
As for the rebate cards. There is concern that handing out more free money could make inflation worse. And that's what the rebate cards are, essentially free money. Now, I suppose you could target that rebate to truckers, people whose jobs have them driving a certain amount of miles per week, and commuters who don't have a lot of transportation options beyond their car for work.
Targeting relief to people who use their vehicles enough to need to fill up every week doesn't sound that bad for me. For many years, I lived close enough to work to not need to do that. And really, how much the gas prices climbed wasn't a huge deal.
Yeah, it still costs more. But it only really bothered me when I was taking a road trip somewhere. And that seemed easier to deal with than the $300 bucks a month I'm spending on gas commuting sixty miles a day. Heck, shaving $10 to $15 bucks off a fill-up every week would have a positive impact on my wallet.
Asking big oil and gas how they justify making $35 billion dollars in profits is a good question. At least rhetorically. The answer is that those CEOs are in it to maximize profits for their shareholders. And I suspect they won't be shy telling the administration they don't owe the American people anything more than a shiny new mini-mart on the corner to push dollar hot dogs, nicotine, and sugar along with their $5 dollar gasoline.
Call me cynical, but I don't think there's going to be real relief anytime soon. Gas prices drive everything. And once we're used to paying more for less, which is what is happening right now. It's going to take a lot for prices to come down, even if we are paying less at the pump. Our best shot at relief, aside from driving less, a lot less. Is asking the boss for a raise. Heck, you might just come out on top if you can make that happen. That, like everything else these days, is a big if.