WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Monday that gas rebate cards are one action his administration is considering to alleviate the pain of seemingly ever-rising gas prices in the U.S.
Biden, speaking to reporters Monday on the beach near his Delaware vacation house, confirmed that he was open to the idea, according to CNN.
The 46th president said gas cards are “part of what we’re considering, that’s part of the whole operation.”
As of Monday, the national average price of regular gasoline was just shy of $5 per gallon – nearly $2 higher than it was a year ago, according to AAA.
Gas rebate cards are one of several financial salves to help Americans weather spiking fuel costs, but the proposal has run into resistance in the past. When the White House considered rebates two months ago, a House Democratic counsel panned the suggestion, concluding that it might have the unintended effect of driving inflation, as well as being a pricy, poorly-targeted solution.
Senior White House aides also had concerns that the ongoing U.S. microchip shortage could make it hard to produce sufficient rebate cards, and it could be difficult to prevent people from using the money to buy something other than gas, according to The Washington Post.
It’s not yet clear how much money households might receive via the rebate cards, nor who might receive them.
Gas rebate cards are just one of several tactics the Biden administration is considering as the White House hopes to turn around foundering poll numbers before fall elections.
Gas Tax Holiday
Along with gas rebate cards, another proposal that has made national headlines for weeks is a holiday on the federal gasoline tax, possibly saving U.S. consumers as much as 18.4 cents a gallon.
Biden confirmed Monday that he is considering the tax holiday, and hopes to have a decision “based on the data” by the end of the week.
The Penn Wharton Budget Model released estimates Wednesday showing that consumers saved at the pump because of gas tax holidays in Connecticut, Georgia and Maryland. The majority of the savings went to consumers, instead of service stations and others in the energy sector.
In an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed an openness to a federal gas tax holiday to give motorists some relief. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in her own Sunday interview told CNN’s “State of the Union” cautioned that “part of the challenge with the gas tax, of course, is that it funds the roads.”
Oil refiners say their ability to produce additional gas and diesel fuel is limited, meaning that prices could remain high unless demand starts to wane.
The American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers sent a joint letter to Biden on Wednesday that said refineries are operating near their maximum capacity already and nearly half of the capacity taken off line was due to the facilities converting to renewable fuel production.
“Today’s situation did not materialize overnight and will not be quickly solved,” the letter said. “To protect and foster U.S. energy security and refining capacity, we urge to you to take steps to encourage more domestic energy production,” including new infrastructure and reducing regulatory burdens.
The U.S. is not alone when it comes to eye-popping receipts at the gas pump – several European and Asian countries, where taxes and subsidies may be higher than in the US, have substantially higher gas prices.
According to the website globalpetrolprices.com, the most expensive place to fill up one’s tank is Hong Kong, where the average gallon on June 13 was $11.35. Rounding out the top five are Norway ($10.22), Denmark ($10.04), Finland ($10.01) and Iceland ($9.84).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.