John Kirby defends Biden tweet on high gas prices after Bezos criticism over inflation

Backlash comes days after Biden adviser says high gas prices are about ‘future of the liberal world order’

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks about gas prices in the South Court Auditorium at the White House campus on June 22, 2022, in Washington, D.C. |

John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, defended President Joe Biden's comments about gas prices after facing criticism from billionaire Jeff Bezos. 

The Biden administration's energy policies continue to face criticism, this time from Bezos days after the president's economic adviser suggested Americans should "stand firm" despite high gas prices because it’s “about the future of the liberal world order.”

In a Twitter post Saturday, the president demanded that gas stations lower fuel prices. Bezos responded by accusing the commander in chief of misleading the public or lacking a "basic" understanding of market forces. 

"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," the president 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."

In a response tweet Saturday night, Bezos, the founder of and owner of The Washington Post, replied: "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." 

During a wide-ranging interview with Mike Emanuel on "Fox News Sunday," Kirby defended the president's remarks, saying: “I think anybody that knows President Biden knows he’s plain-spoken and he tells exactly what he’s thinking in terms that everybody can understand.”

“If everybody cooperates on this, we can bring the price down at least by about a dollar a gallon,” Kirby added, “so he’s working very, very hard to do this because he knows the impact that high gas prices have on the American household.”

The debate over fuel prices and who's to blame comes as Americans across the nation are paying around $5 per gallon or higher for fuel during the busiest travel weekend this summer. In May, inflation hit its highest level in 40 years, and some economists speculate the U.S. is already experiencing a recession

On Thursday, Biden told reporters in Madrid that Americans would have to bear with high gas prices for “as long as it takes” for Ukraine to win against the invading Russia, Bloomberg reported of the president's remarks.

Following that statement, Brian Deese, a Biden adviser and chairman of the National Economic Council chairman, was asked by "CNN Newsroom" host Victor Blackwell, "What do you say to those families who say, ‘Listen, we can’t afford to pay $4.85 a gallon for months, if not years?'"

Deese responded, “What we heard from the president, this is about the future of the liberal world order, and we have to stand firm.”

He added, “But at the same time, what I’d say to that family and to Americans across the country is, ‘You have a president in the administration that is going to do everything in its power to blunt those price increases and bring those prices down.’”

The statement caused a stir on social media.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., tweeted her response to Deese's comment, "They're telling you EVERYTHING they plan to do and most don't even care. WAKE UP!"  

The conservative-leaning Media Research Center commented on Twitter: “A Biden administration spokesman said that Americans have to endure $5 gas prices to preserve "the future of the liberal World Order.”

Stephen Miller, who was an adviser to former President Donald Trump, called Biden’s liberal world order “a war on the working and middle class.”

Miller described the war as “domestic drilling bans to explode energy costs; run printing presses to inflate dollar; open borders to drain erode family income, resources, stability, open jails to loose predators upon the community; destroy nuclear family; discourage childbirth; promote abortion as ‘family planning;’ replace religion with regime ideology; put gov’t between parents & children” among other things.

On Thursday, Biden told reporters in Madrid that Americans would have to bear with high gas prices for “as long as it takes” for Ukraine to win against the invading Russia.

According to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released last week, as many as 85% of adults believe the country is on the wrong track, and 79%, including the majority of Democrats, think the U.S. economy is doing poorly.

“President Joe Biden’s approval rating dropped slightly over the past month to the lowest point of his presidency so far, with 39% approving now compared with 45% in the AP-NORC poll conducted in April,” the poll noted.

In response to fuel prices that have been increasing since the fall of 2021, Biden sent letters on June 15 to CEOs of U.S. oil companies warning that he might use his emergency powers if they don’t increase output at their refineries. In the letters, the president accused oil companies of running "historically high profit margins" as Americans experience high gas prices.

ExxonMobil responded to Biden's June 10 accusation that the company has "made more money than God" by saying that it “has been investing more than any other company to develop U.S. oil and gas supplies. … Globally, we’ve invested double what we’ve earned over the past five years — $118 billion on new oil and gas supplies compared to net income of $55 billion. …

"In the short term, the U.S. government could enact measures often used in emergencies following hurricanes or other supply disruptions — such as waivers of Jones Act provisions and some fuel specifications to increase supplies," ExxonMobil added. "Longer term, government can promote investment through clear and consistent policy that supports U.S. resource development, such as regular and predictable lease sales, as well as streamlined regulatory approval and support for infrastructure such as pipelines.”

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