REHOBOTH BEACH, Delaware ( Associated Press) — President Joe Biden said Monday he is considering introducing a federal gas tax holiday that could potentially save US consumers as much as 18.4 cents a gallon.
“Yes, I’m considering it,” Biden told reporters after walking along the beach near his Delaware vacation home. “I hope to make a decision based on the data I’m looking for by the end of the week.”
The administration is increasingly looking for ways to rid the public of higher gas station prices, which began to rise last year and have risen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Gas prices nationwide average just under $5 a gallon, according to the AAA.
Biden said members of his team are scheduled to meet with major oil executives this week to discuss rising oil prices. Biden has lashed out at oil companies, saying they are making windfall profits when people experience soaring fuel costs and inflation. But Biden said he would not meet with oil executives himself.
“I need an explanation as to why they are not refining more oil,” Biden said.
The Biden administration has already released oil from the US strategic reserve and increased the amount of ethanol for the summer, in addition to sending out a letter to refiners last week urging them to increase their refining capacity. However, these efforts have not yet resulted in a significant reduction in price pressures, so the administration is now considering a gas tax holiday. Gasoline and diesel taxes help pay for roads.
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Penn Wharton’s budget model released estimates Wednesday showing consumers saved on gas stations due to gas tax holidays in Connecticut, Georgia and Maryland. Most of the savings went to consumers rather than service stations and others in the energy sector.
In an interview on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed her willingness to end the federal gas tax holiday to give motorists some relief.
Walking along the beach with his daughter Ashley, granddaughter Naomi and granddaughter’s fiancé, Biden often stopped to chat with beachgoers who were on the June 19 federal vacation on the beach.
He took the moment to reassure inflation – the consumer price index rose to a nearly 40-year high of 8.6% in May from the same month a year ago – and growing warnings from economists that a recession could be around the corner.
“We’ll get through this guys,” Biden told one group of vacationers.
Last week, the Federal Reserve stepped up its efforts to curb inflation by raising its key interest rate by three-quarters of a point – the biggest increase in nearly three decades – and signaling a bigger rate hike.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers told NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that he estimates “the prevailing probability will be that by the end of next year we will see a recession in the American economy.”
Biden said he spoke with Summers, who served as secretary of the treasury in the Clinton administration, on Monday morning.
“There is nothing inevitable in a recession,” Biden said.
Associated Press writer Josh Boak contributed from Baltimore.