For the last few weeks, there has been an elephant in the room of the (sort of) daily White House Press briefing.
As of Monday’s gaggle, no White House reporter has asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about what the president plans to do about rising gas prices. Not one word. Nada.
That’s kind of glaring given the fact that anyone who drives a car, truck or lawnmower has felt some pain at the pump as gas prices have spiked the last several weeks. Again, as of Monday, the average price per gallon for unleaded gas was $2.73 in Florida and $2.85 right here in in Palm Beach County, according to AAA.
Prices for gas are running at their highest in at least three years, and are expected to go even higher as Memorial Day kicks off the summer driving season. And AAA warned of potentially higher oil prices this week if President Donald Trump pulls out of the nuclear deal with Iran and imposes sanctions on that oil producing nation.
Usually, this would be fodder for Washington reporters to pound the current White House occupant on the issue, asking: “What’s the president going to do about this issue that affects literally every American household?”
Fair or not. Ever since the Arab Oil Crisis of the 1970s, no American president has been immune to this baseline pocketbook issue. Well, it seems, until now.
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The White House Press Corps can be forgiven for being a little distracted.
Let’s see: there has been serious stuff like the above-mentioned blowing a hole in the Iran Nuclear deal and further de-stabilizing the Middle East. There’s setting up a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to broker a peace on the Korean Peninsula. There has been the less serious comedic takedown of Sanders by Comedy Central’s Michelle Wolf at the much-maligned White House Correspondents Association Dinner. And of course, the daily drumbeat of developments on the Stormy Daniels’ front — which has reached a new octane level under Trump’s new lawyer, bombastic former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Wait… what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, higher gas prices.
To be sure, the White House has continued to trumpet other (positive) economic news. On Friday, the president made sure to mention the latest jobs report that showed the unemployment rate dip below 4 percent to 3.9 percent — technically a sign of full employment.
Although it would be nice, as economists note, to see workers’ wages finally show a substantial increase as a result of that much-ballyhooed $1.5 trillion Republican tax cut.
Could it be that higher gas prices are not as a big a deal as they were in the past?
What’s paying 50 cents more per gallon than you were a year ago mean anyway? Well, if you have a 20-gallon tank, that’s $10 more per fill-up. Average two fill-ups a month and that’s $240 more you’re paying a year. And if you still haven’t gotten rid of that big sport-utility vehicle, God help you.
There are also plenty of small businesses that depend on gas to run their operations. Pizza and other food delivery, retail florists, landscapers and those now-ubiquitous food trucks, just to name a few.
Take our poll here, and tell us what you think about rising gas prices. Are you concerned, changing any travel plans, etc.?