Aug 31, 2019

Trump seeks political gain from low gasoline prices

Ben Geman, author of Generate

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday that drivers should "Enjoy the low gas prices over the Labor Day weekend!," yet he inaccurately characterized U.S. energy markets in the same message.

Where it stands: Per AAA, the average gasoline price nationally is $2.58, the lowest level heading into the Labor Day holiday since 2016 (but quite similar to 2017 levels).

Why it matters: The tweet comes amid signs of a slowing U.S. economy that could create political headwinds for the president, whose approval rating is already mired in the low-40s, according to polls analyzed by FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics.

What Trump tweeted: "My energy policies have made America energy independent while keeping prices low, just like a Tax Cut. The Democrats 'green' policies will raise your price of gas!"

Reality check: As we noted here, U.S. presidents have limited and indirect influence on pump prices. In addition, the U.S. is not energy independent despite its strengthening position in global markets and rising exports of oil and natural gas.

  • Crude oil imports have fallen significantly amid the domestic production boom over the last decade.
  • Crude exports have been generally rising since heavy restrictions were lifted in late 2015, and have exceeded 3 million barrels per day at times in recent months, though levels bounce around.
  • Looking at energy products more broadly, the Energy Information Administration said early this year that the U.S. is on the cusp of becoming a net exporter.
  • But, but, but: That's not a synonym for "independent" because the U.S. remains deeply connected to global markets.

Go deeper

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President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

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Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.