White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tried to defend President Joe Biden on Sunday over a controversial tweet in which Biden demanded gas stations immediately lower their gas prices.
But her attempt fell completely flat.
What is the background?
On Saturday, Biden told gas stations they must lower their prices — and they better do so immediately.
"My message to the companies running gas stations and setting prices at the pump is simple: this is a time of war and global peril," Biden said. "Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product. And do it now."
The message generated stinging rebuke from many, including from Jeff Bezos, who said the message indicated the Biden administration painfully misunderstands basic economics.
"Ouch. Inflation is far too important a problem for the White House to keep making statements like this," Bezos responded on Twitter. "It's either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics."
What did Jean-Pierre say?
Jean-Pierre directly responded to Bezos on Sunday and claimed the Biden administration does not misunderstand basic economics, charging the market is "failing the American consumer."
"Oil prices have dropped by about $15 over the past month, but prices at the pump have barely come down. That’s not 'basic market dynamics.' It’s a market that is failing the American consumer," Jean-Pierre said.
"But I guess it’s not surprising that you think oil and gas companies using market power to reap record profits at the expense of the American people is the way our economy is supposed to work," she added.
Omri Ceren, national security adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), quickly pointed out why Jean-Pierre's response completely missed the mark.
"For oil to become fuel it has to be refined. There's a complex supply chain before and after refining," Ceren explained. "You guys disintegrated investment across that chain by signaling you'd dry up fossil fuel production at top. That's why."
EnergyCynic, a popular social media account that focuses on energy, described Jean-Pierre's response as "doubling down on stupid."
"No idea what they are talking about and most people know it," the account said. "These people like to claim they are the 'smart' party."
Despite the Biden administration repeatedly blaming oil companies for record-high gas prices, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas explained recently why oil companies are not responsible for gas prices.
"Since only 1 percent of service stations in the U.S. are owned by companies that also produce oil, U.S. oil producers are in no position to control retail gasoline prices," the economists said last month.