President Biden on Thursday misstated the typical cost of gas in America when he took office, claiming it was twice what the average price was.
Traveling in upstate New York on Thursday, Mr. Biden claimed that the “most common price of gas in America” was $5 per gallon when he became president.
“Today, the most common price of a gas in America is $3.39, down from over $5 when I took office,” Mr. Biden said. “We need to keep making that progress.”
However, the average price per gallon that he inherited in January 2021 was less than half of $5 per gallon — just $2.42, a number that has risen steeply under his tenure.
Despite gas prices falling steadily since mid-summer, they are still well above where they were when the president took office.
Average U.S. gas prices peaked at $5.01 per gallon in mid-June of this year — nearly a year and a half after Mr. Biden took office.
The current average price per gallon is $3.76, according to AAA, still significantly more than both the $3.39 the president cited and the $2.42 he inherited.
Mr. Biden’s misleading figures drew immediate backlash from energy sector insiders in Washington.
“The only thing more terrible than Joe Biden’s energy failures is when Joe Biden lies about his energy failures,” said Daniel Turner, founder and executive director for Power The Future.
“President Biden knows he’s lying to you, he just believes the American people will simply buy the falsehoods he’s peddling,” he said.
Mr. Biden’s handling of the broader economy has been a key liability for Democrats as voters prepare to head to the polls next month amid persistently high inflation.
He pleaded with Americans on Thursday to take stock of his successes, touting in particular at the New York event the private investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing that have been spurred by the $280 billion Chips and Science Act, which he signed last summer.
Earlier this month, Mr. Biden dismissed the Labor Department’s dismal inflation figures saying Americans have been battling rising costs “for years.”
The Consumer Price Index increased 0.4% in September after rising by 0.1% in August, exceeding expectations and showing that inflation remains a stubborn problem in the final monthly report before the midterm elections.
The annual inflation rate of 8.2% was down slightly from 8.3% in the previous month, though it remains a historic burden on consumers. Inflation reached a 41-year high of 9.1% in June.
Mr. Biden on Wednesday said he appreciates Americans’ frustrations with skyrocketing prices while he struggles to get inflation under control, and he warned that it will take time before families get back to breaking even.
Mr. Biden has pointed to the $740 billion tax-and-spending law he signed over the summer as the way out of choppy economic waters. Democrats say the law will eventually restrain inflationary pressures.
Critics pan the measure as more government spending, a thing typically adds to inflation rather than reduces it. They also point to other forms of spending under the administration, such as Mr. Biden‘s plan to write off billions in student loan debt, as compounding the problem.
“I’m optimistic,” Mr. Biden said Wednesday. “It’s going to take some time. I appreciate the frustration of the American people.”