CNN panelists took aim at President Biden on Thursday after his push for a national gas tax holiday to address record-high prices seemed to underwhelm top lawmakers within his own party.
CNN anchor John King began the discussion by noting that several top Democrats had “panned and dismissed” the idea — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and close Biden ally Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).
“Can you help me here? That a Democratic president, his party’s in trouble. He’s in trouble in an election year,” King said. “He has a major policy announcement, and his own party dumps on it within seconds.”
Pelosi did not endorse Biden’s proposal, instead saying “we will see where the consensus lies on a path forward” for the gas tax holiday. Both Hoyer and Coons questioned whether the proposal could secure enough votes in Congress.
CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich concurred, pointing out that it was odd the Biden administration hadn’t reached a consensus with top Democrats beforehand.
“It’s almost like he should have run it by a couple people like, like call his friend Chris Coons who’s basically the Biden whisperer on the Hill and just run this by them,” Kucinich said. “But no, listen, some Democrats are expressing concern this would hurt the Highway Trust Fund right after they passed all of these infrastructure projects.”
“Also, there’s no guarantee oil companies would pass along any savings to the consumers, and you’ve got a lot of Democrats who are saying oil companies are at fault for all of this,” Kucinich added. “I don’t know if there was a miscommunication or what this was, but it’s clear this White House wants to do anything to lower the price at the pump or at least look like they’re trying to do something.”
King added that Biden’s “calling card” while running for president was his ability to “get things done” on the policy front.
“This is the number one issue for Americans, inflation, gas prices are a big piece of that,” said King. “Is it not embarrassing to the president of the United States for his party right out of the box to say ‘Go away’?”
Washington Post national political correspondent Olivier Knox responded by pointing out that former President Barack Obama, with whom Biden served as vice president, was on the record slamming the concept of a gas tax holiday as a “gimmick” in 2008.
“It’s not great for this White House that a three-second internet search turns up a Barack Obama video heaping scorn on the idea of cutting the gas tax. That’s not great for them,” said Knox. “So there’s some muscle memory in the Democratic Party against this proposal.”
Critics have argued that the gas tax holiday would do little to address the underlying problem. As The Post reported, Target CEO Brian Cornell noted the idea could even exacerbate prices by increasing demand.
Biden called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months as part of efforts to bring down prices that have surged to record highs.
“By suspending the 18-cent federal gas tax for the next 90 days, we can bring down the price of gas and give families just a little bit of relief,” Biden said on Wednesday.