High gas prices hurt Biden. But it’s Americans who feel the pain. – USA TODAY

President Joe Biden continues to remain headstrong in key areas where different policies could potentially mitigate problems Americans are facing.

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Joe Biden is stumbling. 

Last weekend, the president cruised on a bike trail in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with cameras clicking. As he finished the ride, Biden lost his balance and, like a cow being tipped, slowly fell with his bike – while it was stationary.  

Thankfully, he is OK, and I’m glad he wasn’t harmed. But his fall  is symbolic of his presidency.

In his first months in office, Biden rode high with a 55% to 59% approval rating. He signed a slew of executive orders and pushed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan through Congress. 

Then, in August, he decided to pull the United States out of Afghanistan. The botched withdrawal, which earned negative news coverage from the right and the left, sent his presidency into a precipitous decline.

More cooperation and less ‘political rhetoric’

Now, soaring inflation, supply shortages, record gas prices and Russia’s war in Ukraine have left Biden and his presidency sputtering in the dust. 

Yet, after so much bungling and misfortune, Biden continues to remain headstrong in key areas where different policies could potentially mitigate the problems Americans are facing. One of those areas is gas prices.  

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On Tuesday, Chevron CEO Mike Wirth wrote a letter to Biden that called for more cooperation and less “political rhetoric.” He recommended “increasing American (energy) production,” “clarity and consistency on policy matters” and following the oil industry’s 10-point plan to free up American energy and bring down gas prices.  

What was Biden’s response? 

“(Wirth’s) mildly sensitive. I didn’t know they’d get their feelings hurt that quickly,” Biden remarked during a news conference. “Look, we need more refining capacity. This idea that they don’t have oil to drill and to bring up is simply not true.” 

In other words, Biden continued to spout political rhetoric – criticizing instead of cooperating – and used the oil companies as a scapegoat, just as he did last week when he placed a large share of the blame for high gas prices on them in a letter.  

“There is no question that Vladimir Putin is principally responsible for the intense financial pain the American people and their families are bearing,” Biden wrote. “But amid a war that has raised gasoline prices more than $1.70 per gallon, historically high refinery profit margins are worsening that pain.” 

President’s disapproval rating surges

Biden is in no position to remain this uncooperative and stubborn. His disapproval rating now, ironically, averages between 55% and 59%. 

To be fair, Americans do tend to blame the president for their problems, whether or not the criticism is warranted. But with so much economic pain not long after the Biden administration and Congress spent trillions of dollars and made significant changes in energy policy, the turmoil can’t all be accidental. 

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Even left-wing economists and media sites are beginning to concede that the American Rescue Plan contributed to worsening the inflation

President Biden must realize that he is not the only one hurting here. Americans are hurting, too, especially low-income families. According to the Urban Institute, “Rising gas prices could mean reduced or costlier access to employment, recreation, education, and other needs.”  

Biden needs to try something different. He should at least be open to accepting some of the oil industry’s proposals. What does he have to lose? 

Chris Schlak is an Opinion fellow for USA TODAY. He recently graduated with a degree in government from The University of Texas at Austin in May of 2022. He founded and edited The Texas Horn, an Intercollegiate Studies Institute student publication at UT Austin.