(Photo by Angela Breck/Maryland Matters)
When I hear Republicans blaming President Biden for high gas prices, I’m reminded of what scribe Mary McCarthy once said of her rival Lillian Hellman: “Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the.”
I wouldn’t go quite that far in condemning Republicans for their current propaganda. But aside from those two little words, they’ve been weaving a panoply of lies that would make Putin envious.
The propaganda about gas prices – “Joe Biden caused this and doesn’t seem to care,” bleats the Republican National Committee – is all about hoodwinking voters in advance of the November midterm elections, a neat trick designed to turn the House and Senate red.
But it may well work like a charm, because for the average citizen swallowing lies is a lot easier than fact-checking. Besides, it’s always easiest to lash out at the incumbent party. As Senator Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said the other day, “Historically, people automatically blame presidents for (high) gas prices.”
So it’s may well be a waste of time for me to parse the GOP’s BS, but hey, refuting lies is an old habit of mine, regardless of whether any gullible voter may happen to read this.
For instance, Republicans on Capitol Hill are falsely contending that the current gas price spike is all Biden’s fault because he’s not letting the oil companies do enough drilling. Senator Bill Cassidy says Biden has launched “an all-out assault on the development of U.S. oil.” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise tweets that gas price spikes are “what happens when you destroy America’s energy industry.”
But the truth – for what it’s worth – is that oil barrel production has actually increased since Biden became president, as have the number of oil rigs. There are also roughly 9,000 wells that have been federally-approved, but have not yet been drilled because key oil companies, flush with recent profits, have decided to instead return cash to their shareholders.
It’s the drillers – not Biden – who have been holding back.
In truth, Biden has been so oil-friendly that environmentalists and climate change experts have become demoralized. Contrary to the Republican lie that Biden has killed domestic energy production, the truth is quite the opposite.
“Biden has done nothing to halt oil leasing. In fact, the Biden administration has outpaced Trump in issuing drilling permits on public lands and water in its first year,” according to federal data analyzed by the Center for Biological Diversity.
Here’s another metric: According to the conservation group Center for Western Priorities, the Biden administration approved more drilling permits during his first year in office than Trump did in any of his first three.
My favorite Republican lie, however, is how the current gas price spike wouldn’t be happening if only Biden hadn’t “killed” the Keystone XL pipeline that was gonna bring crude oil from Canada.
Biden indeed canceled it, but the pipeline was never “operating” in the first place. At the time Biden canceled it, only eight percent of it had been built – and the original target date for completion, barring all holdups and court battles, would’ve been 2023 at the absolute earliest. Besides, we currently get lots of Canadian crude oil anyway. It arrives by rail.
But that’s all nuance, whereas the Republicans are masters of lying simplicity. As Joseph Goebbels infamously said, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.” Indeed, Republicans are reportedly selling stickers that motorists can slap on gas pumps, with Biden pointing and saying “I did that.”
Will their lies snow enough voters to triumph in November?
I’ll answer that with a question: Have you lived in America lately?
Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may email him at [email protected].
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