White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced criticism over the weekend after she tried to clap back at Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for mocking a tweet from Democrat President Joe Biden.
Biden tried to blame high gas prices on gas stations and demanded that they immediately lower the prices that they are charging at the pump.
Biden’s absurd claim comes after NBC News reported earlier this year that gas stations make “15 cents a gallon on average, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.”
“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 tweeted. “Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product. And do it now.”
Bezos, who is one of the most successful businessmen in history, responded, “Ouch. Inflation is far too important a problem for the White House to keep making statements like this. It’s either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics.”
Jean-Pierre responded: “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.”
“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 continued.
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.
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) July 3, 2022
Jean Pierre was mocked online following her attempt to clap back at Bezos, including some of the following notable responses:
- Ed Whelan, Distinguished Senior Fellow and Antonin Scalia Chair in Constitutional Studies: “She thinks that the oil companies decided to be so generous to us for so many years?”
- Bethany Mandel, columnist: “Sounding a lot like Venezuela.”
- Bill Perkins, entrepreneur: “The rep for the highest office in the land should know that refinery output not crude oil input prices and global demand set the prices at the pump. To be this ignorant of such an important topic is just shocking. Or to be this mebdacious is just evil.”
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas noted that gas prices remaining high despite a slight decrease in the price of a barrel of oil can be “attributed to events in the U.S. retail gasoline market beyond the control of oil producers.”
The institution added:
Moreover, the asymmetry of the response of retail gasoline prices need not be evidence of price gouging. One potential explanation is that station operators are recapturing margins lost during the upswing, when gas stations were initially slow to increase pump prices. The reluctance to lower retail prices also likely reflects concerns that oil prices—and, hence, wholesale gasoline prices—may quickly rebound, eating into station profit margins.
Another possible reason for this asymmetry is consumers’ tendency to more intensively search for lower pump prices as gasoline prices rise than when they decline. This diminished search effort provides further pricing power to gas stations, causing prices to fall more slowly than they rose. This has prompted researchers to liken the response of gasoline prices to higher oil prices to a rocket—and the response to lower oil prices to a feather.
Yet another potential explanation for this asymmetry is that seasonal demand tends to increase as the weather warms, supporting higher retail prices.