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Biden Economic Adviser Leaves More Questions Than Answers on Gas Prices

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

The Biden administration continues to inspire little hope or confidence on gas prices, a major issue affecting Americans experiencing pain at the pump. Jared Bernstein, a White House economic adviser, made the rounds on several Sunday shows, where he was asked about issues such as inflation, a recession, and when there might be more relief from high gas prices. 

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During his appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Bernstein was asked by host Dana Bash about President Joe Biden trying to spin last week's inflation numbers, claiming it was out of date. He began his response by, as others of this administration have done, trying to endear Biden to voters. 

"Remember, this is a president who grew up in a family where issues like the price of gas, the price of food were kitchen table issues," Bernstein said, as he also claimed Biden "has dispatched his team to do everything we can to ease price pressures. It is his top domestic economic priority." 

Specifically, Bernstein offered that Biden took issue with that "since that report came out, the price of gas is down about 50 cents a gallon," and went on to say, "that's about the fastest decline in about a decade," though even he acknowledged that's too high. 

Bash didn't give him much quarter, pointing out that Americans remain less than thrilled about how the average gas price is still at $4.50 per gallon. Even fellow Democrats are taking issue with the White House's messaging, with Bash listing out examples such as Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who is not looking to tell voters the data is out of date. 

On July 17, according to AAA, the average price was $4.532 a gallon. 

The relief may not remain for long, though, as Bash pointed out, analysts are warning gas could again return to $6 per gallon, potentially in October. 

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Bernstein took his time in getting to if he agrees with concerns that gas prices could go back up and instead immediately responded by using a Biden Administration talking point that Biden "is trying to nudge these companies to pass some of those savings along to consumer," a tone deaf point that gas and oil companies did not take to too kindly, as Leah highlighted last month. 

"So, look, nobody can see reliably around the corner when it comes to those prices taking a couple of quarters away. So I would say, really don't pay a lot of attention to those forecasts because it's just too much volatility," he eventually offered. "What I can say is that I think it's very likely that gas prices continue to track down, say, for the rest of this month. And I say that not because...not just the oil price is down 20 percent, but wholesale prices are down as well. And those two tend to track each other." 

During Bernstein's appearance on "Fox News Sunday," host Shannon Bream likewise referenced such economic issues and did so in the context of a Fox News poll with less than favorable results toward the Biden administration now that we are just three and a half months out from the November midterm elections. 

One key takeaway from that poll has been that "Voters say the economy is bad, and they expect it will get worse." 

According to a write-up from Dana Blanton: 

Just 17% rate the economy positively, the lowest in nearly 10 years. Eighty-four percent say it is in only fair or poor shape.

And a 52% majority thinks it will be worse next year. This is the first time in intermittent surveys going back to 1998 that over half have felt the economy will be worse a year from now.

Meanwhile, 52% have changed their summer travel plans because of gas prices, 70% have had to cut back on other spending to afford necessities, and 75% say inflation has caused them financial hardship -- up from 67% in December. 

Many fault the White House for that. Fifty-five percent say the administration has made the economy worse, and more voters blame Biden (31%) for gas prices than think Russia (20%) or oil companies (14%) are responsible.

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When Bream explained some of the poll results to Bernstein, he again answered, as he did on CNN, by claiming "this was a kitchen table issue for President Biden as he grew up, and that's why he has dispatched best to do everything we can to help." He also pivoted by talking about lowering prescription drug costs and lowering health insurance premiums as a form of relief. 

On another issue of grave economic concern, Bernstein took issue with the "generally accepted" criteria for a recession, which is two quarters of negative GDP, which has been achieved

"It is very hard to conclude that we are in a recession when you look at the payroll and the job gains that we've seen," Bernstein instead tried to claim. 

Earlier last month, the Atlanta Federal Reserve's GDPNow tracker, which Bream referenced during the segment, found that the country was on the brink of a recession. Also, last month, as I covered at the time, a poll from the Wall Street Journal noted that "Recession Probability Soars as Inflation Worsens," after confiding in 53 economists. 

Bernstein on Monday also took questions from the press, where he was even more unhelpful and became even testier. 

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"When the gas prices go up, it's got nothing to do with the president. When we see some decline, you want him to get the credit," a reporter pointed out, which Bernstein stumbled his way through saying he disagrees with, claiming "there's no both way thinking here at all" and that there has been a "consistent pressure on this White House to try to do everything it could to ameliorate inflationary pressures." Bernstein also claimed, "The president has reacted from the beginning, talking about how this was such an important priority to alleviate these pressures on behalf of the American people." 

Parroting the consistent narrative from the Biden administration, Bernstein claimed the president "put his head down, got to work, and got us to work, to do everything we could to achieve that goal." Bernstein also actually touted how Biden "presided over the largest historical release of barrels of oil from the strategic reserve," though that has faced its own heavy criticisms

Bernstein concluded his exchange with the reporter by making clear "I very much disagree with that framing" and going with the talking point that "I think what's happening here is a president who is working tirelessly to address the, uh, largest constraint, probably the toughest constraint facing uh, American households right now, the, uh, budgetary impacts of these elevated crises, and we're showing you here today some real results." 

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The Biden administration can keep parroting these points for as long as they please. The American people don't believe them. 

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