Democrats Vow to Fight for Cheap Gas

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, national Democrats are testing out a new line of attack against Donald Trump. Nope, it’s not about the new evidence accumulating every day that the president bases major policy decisions on how they affect his personal wealth. The Democrats’ strategy is all about pinning a moderate rise in gas prices on Trump.

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democratic National Committee put out a “sprinkling of statements” blaming Trump for higher gas prices, the Daily Beast reports, the opening salvos in a sustained, coordinated messaging campaign by the party.

Gas price populism is nothing new. Despite the absence of any firm connection between White House policy and the price of fuel, blaming the sitting president for more expensive gas is a timeworn political tactic. Though only Republicans routinely work themselves into full-on drill-baby-drill mania, we’re now seeing that Democrats are fully capable of turning an uptick in gas prices into electioneering fodder.

It’s a maneuver that sits uncomfortably next to Democrats’ position as the major political party that views global warming as serious threat.

Few things are more damaging to the climate than cheap gas, which incentivizes more driving, the purchase of less fuel efficient cars, and sprawling development patterns. As economist Joe Cortright has written, Americans get “locked in” to larger cars with worse fuel economy for the lifecycle of the vehicle — which can be more than a decade.

Even with the increase in fuel prices in the past year, gas remains relatively cheap by recent standards:

Photo: Gas Buddy
Chart: Gas Buddy

And by the standards of international peer nations, America does not pay much at the pump:

Statistic: Average gasoline price per liter in selected countries in March 2018 (in U.S. dollars) | Statista
Via Statista

The longer America’s addiction to low fuel prices continues, the harder it will be to make a transition to carbon-efficient transportation and development patterns. Democrats are going to tie themselves in knots if they try to be the party fighting for cheap gas and against global warming at the same time.

  • BJToepper

    I am instead blissfully optimistic that the long tailpipe argument will someday ride itself and its tail right off into the sunset.

    “In the worst-case scenario, the study estimated that for a region where all energy is generated from coal, a plug-in electric car would emit greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to a gasoline car rated at a combined city/highway driving fuel economy of 30 mpg.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_long_tailpipe

  • earl hickey

    “The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again”

  • Joe R.

    No, ban things that are demonstrably harmful to people. Large vehicles use more energy, which in turn causes higher energy prices, energy wars, pollution, etc. They’re also more harmful pedestrians, cyclists, and those who opt to get smaller, more sensible vehicles. Think of it like the bans on public smoking. Sure, the smokers cried foul because they thought it interfered with their “right” to smoke. The reality is one person’s rights end where another’s begin. Everyone has a right to clean air and safer streets. There are few people who really need SUVs or pickups, and I’d be happy to offer those few people who demonstrate a real need exemptions.

  • Joe R.

    So the key is changing land use patterns. That means more mixed development, more infill development, and rezoning so people with large lots can sell off parts of their lots to developers.

  • Joe R.

    No it doesn’t. To pay for exempting the first $25K of income from FICA tax, you can start by eliminating the threshold above which people stop paying FICA tax. You can also subject dividends and capital gains to FICA tax. Doing all this would put Social Security in the black permanently.

  • Joe R.

    Solar is already viable. I’ve been pricing a system for my house. A 5kW DIY system will cost me about $10K (that’s without subsidies). Annually it will generate at least 5000 kW-hrs. The panels will still produce 87% output when they’re 25 years old but let’s assume a life of only 25 years and account for the degradation. On average the panels will make about 4700 kW-hrs annually for at least 25 years. That’s 117,500 kW-hrs. The cost per kW-hr is only 8.5 cents. If I account for subsidies which cut the cost in half I’m looking at 4.25 cents per kW-hr. Even if I got someone to install the system for me, it would cost $17K before subsidies, which equates to 14.5 cents per kW-hr. I’m paying double that now for electricity. After subsidies I’m still well under 10 cents per kW-hr. And the price of electric will only go up. In 25 years it might cost over 50 cents per kW-hr to buy electric. The bottom line is solar is quite competitive now even without subsidies. Add in the subsidies, and it’s extremely competitive. Show me another source which can generate power costing the end user only 4.25 cents per kW-hr. Solar subsidies are phasing out, but frankly they’re no long needed to make solar competitive.

    Hydroelectric and fission are also very competitive.

  • Go ahead and tell that. It actually isn’t true, but even if it was, it’s still better than any cars getting less than at least 35 MPG. That’s not a large list.

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