In an attempt to take credit for lower gas prices during his presidency, former President Donald Trump baselessly implied in a post on his website on Thursday that gas prices have gone up because he is no longer in office.
Trump provided no evidence or rationale for this dubious claim. Noting that Memorial Day weekend was approaching, Trump said in his post that he was “sorry” that gas prices for travelers in the U.S. would be “far higher than they were just a short number of months ago where we had gasoline under $2 a gallon.”
“Remember as you’re watching the meter tick, and your dollars pile up, how great of a job Donald Trump did as President,” he added.
Prices are indeed climbing, but there’s no evidence to suggest Trump could have kept them down, had he won the presidential election last year instead of Biden; similarly, Biden is not to blame for higher prices now. Prices would almost assuredly have gone up regardless, due to higher demand for gas as a result of the economy opening up as coronavirus vaccines are distributed.
The current average prices of gas in the U.S. sits at $3.044 per gallon, according to AAA’s website. That’s similar to where prices stood one week ago, about 15 cents higher than a month ago.
It’s also about 66 cents higher than what prices were at around Inauguration Day. But most economists say Trump is wrong to imply Biden is at fault.
As energy and security analyst Patricia Schouker said in an interview with Agence France-Presse earlier this year, presidents have “very little direct influence” on affecting prices at the pump. Instead, higher demand for oil and gas, as well as limited supply, is what generally causes price increases.
“A booming rally in oil markets has pushed crude prices to their highest levels since near the start of the coronavirus pandemic, powered by production curbs and recovering demand,” Schouker added.
Trump is also wrong to suggest he helped to lower prices last year. Gas got as low as $1.773 per gallon, on average across the country, in April of 2020. But that wasn’t due to any policy the former president implemented — instead, the opposite of what’s happening now happened then. Demand for gas went down, as several states implemented stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of coronavirus, which resulted in gas prices dropping significantly.
In addition to demand growing in 2021, other factors have added to higher prices. An Arctic blast across the country contributed to rising gas costs in February, for example, and the recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline on the East Coast also led to supply issues, in turn raising prices.
Costs are expected to go up further still, as demand for gas continues to increase during the summer months. Hurricanes and other events, including refinery outages, could also disrupt distribution — situations that Biden has no control over.