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Expand chart
Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Gasoline prices heading into Memorial Day weekend — the start of the summer driving season — are fairly modest by historical standards and lower than last year's levels.

Why it matters: It's a break for people who need or choose to drive long distances. That's also good news for President Trump. Energy prices are politically ominous for presidents when they're high.

  • This isn't lost on Trump, who tried to take credit for gasoline prices when they were falling early in the year and in general likes to highlight the topic.
  • He also makes a public show of leaning on OPEC.

But, but, but: U.S. presidents have limited and indirect influence on pump prices. Instead, they're most directly tethered to oil prices set on global markets that respond to all kinds of global economic and geopolitical forces.

  • Most recently, trade disputes are putting downward pressure on prices.
  • Overall, the White House faces a tricky balancing act as it toughens sanctions against Iranian exports while trying to avoid political blowback over how that could put upward pressure on crude prices.

Where it stands: Gasoline prices have been rising for much of the year but dipped in recent weeks. Per AAA, the nationwide average price is $2.85 per gallon for regular gasoline today, roughly 12 cents below last year at this time. AAA says...

"For the 37.6 million motorists hitting the road for Memorial Day they can expect gas prices to be cheaper than last year with the exception of a few states in the West Coast and Rockies region."

Go deeper: The states with the most expensive gas prices

Go deeper

4 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.