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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

OPINION:

President Joe Biden’s standing among Americans is embarrassingly bad. According to a Quinnipiac poll released last week, when asked if they “approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president,” a meager 33% of respondents said they approved, 54% expressed disapproval, and 13% said they didn’t know or had no opinion. 

As you might expect, the numbers are different depending on which party a respondent belonged to, with far more Democrats giving the President the thumbs up than Republicans. The real telling number though was among Independent voters, where only 25% approved of the job Mr. Biden is doing. 


Independent voters will be the real decision-makers in upcoming elections, so one has to wonder, how is it that only one out of four think our President is doing his job? What happened?

To answer that question, the logical place to start would be to understand American priorities. An IBD/TIPP poll this past week asked Americans to select the country’s top three economic issues. There were no surprises. 

The number one response was gasoline prices. That was selected as one of the top three by 51% of respondents. The average driver in the United States drives 14,263 miles annually. Taking into consideration an average fuel economy of 24.2 miles per gallon and the current price of gas, each driver will spend an extra $800 this year. It is easy to understand why that is a priority for people. 

The second most chosen economic issue was inflation. Forty-six percent chose inflation among their biggest concerns. The latest CPI report shows that prices increased 8.5% year over year. That is the highest jump since 1981, meaning for about half of Americans, it is the highest inflation in their lifetime. A paycheck doesn’t go as far when you are paying a lot more than you used to, for the exact same thing. 

The third most concerning item for people asked about the American economy was food prices. Thirty-seven percent listed skyrocketing food prices among their three. A family can choose whether or not to buy a new car or take that Disney vacation, but no one gets to choose whether or not to eat.

Ironically all three are related. When the price of gas goes up, it is a major factor in driving inflation. It costs more to deliver any product, or even any ingredient in any product during production, thus, the end product must charge more to recoup its costs and make a profit. This is especially true for food. It costs more for the farmer to raise crops or livestock. It costs more to get the food to the wholesale market. It costs more to distribute and stock any item, all of which means it costs more at the cash register.

If gas prices were still $1.89 a gallon as they were during Trump’s final year in office, we wouldn’t be seeing the same jump in costs for virtually everything else. What happened? 

Joe Biden happened. 

Actions have consequences. Immediately upon taking office as President, Mr. Biden pulled an administrative dirty trick and canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. That meant any plans to get regular oil shipped safely into the United States from Canada were gone. Next Mr. Biden stopped oil and gas leases on federal lands. More than 20% of fuels produced in the United States come from federal lands. 

Oddly, at the same time, Mr. Biden gave his blessing to the completion of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany. 

Mr. Biden inherited an energy-independent country from President Trump. Mr. Trump’s policies effectively meant that no longer was the United States subject to the whims of OPEC or other oil-producing nations. By reversing Mr. Trump’s policies, Mr. Biden managed to make the U.S. energy-dependent again within 16 months. At the same time Mr. Biden vilified domestic production, America imported more from Russia, simultaneously filling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war chest with the proceeds. That’s a double whammy from Mr. Biden’s policies.

America was the number one producer on the planet, but that was nixed by Mr. Biden and the result was less oil and gas on the world markets. Less supply means higher prices. From inauguration day until the day before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, gasoline prices in the United States shot up 48%. If you consider the average price during Mr. Trump’s final year in office that increase was even higher. 

The Biden administration tells us all of this was done in the name of saving the planet from the doom of global warming. No one will be able to afford food or gas, but somehow these actions will save us. Greenies haven’t been real clear on the end result or when we can expect it, but trust them, they are saving the world, one-tenth of a degree per decade at a time.

How does America feel about that logic? Record gas prices? Record inflation? Not good. In fact, Americans of all political stripes overwhelmingly want the US to be energy independent again. When asked if they agreed with the following statement, “The United States should pursue energy independence even if it means relying on domestic fossil fuels at the expense of climate change priorities,” 64% of Americans agreed somewhat or strongly. Twelve percent were unsure. 

That leaves less than one in four Americans that think jacking up your gas prices, home fuel, car costs and grocery bills are just part of the price society must pay for an ill-defined battle against climate change.

Broken out by party affiliation, 73% of Republicans want energy independence. So do 68% of Democrats. Sixty percent of Independents feel the same way. 

After two years of denying that his policies had anything to do with higher gas prices, Mr. Biden announced a reversal of course on one major item, allowing a resumption of leasing for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. He also put through an emergency order allowing the sale of ethanol in fuel at a 15% blend, which environmentalists have long howled will damage the earth. 

Mr. Biden’s policies have created results that have caused his popularity, and that of his party, to plummet. Does this recent reversal mean he is now willing to sacrifice his core constituency of radical environmental leftists in an effort to try and win back some more moderate friends? The problem for Mr. Biden is that his sudden reversal is a tacit admission that it was his own misguided policies that caused the problem in the first place. 

More action is necessary of course. Sixteen Republican state attorneys general want the Biden administration to reverse course and resume construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Getting energy from Canada seems more stable than from Venezuela or Iran. 

Mr. Biden can’t help himself, however. His administration announced Tuesday it reimplemented core protections to an environmental law on infrastructure projects, a climate-related regulation that former President Trump had rolled back.

So after spending two years spouting off about the absolute imminent necessity of infrastructure projects throughout the United States, Mr. Biden now is making them more expensive and slower to achieve. 

The bottom line is this: Only one in three Americans think Mr. Biden is doing his job. Most are hurting at the gas pump, at the grocery store and in everyday life. An overwhelming number want energy independence for the United States so our nation can control our own destiny and economy. 

Despite all of that Mr. Biden has prioritized global warming above all else. A recent Rasmussen poll showed only 4% of Americans put climate change at the top of their priority list, but Mr. Biden, John Kerry and the liberal media don’t care. They are convinced they know better than you or me or hundreds of millions of Americans. They would literally rather see Americans suffer and have a decreased quality of life than take a step back from the cult of global warming. 

What happened to America? Joe Biden happened, that’s what. 

• Tim Constantine is a columnist for The Washington Times and hosts “The Capitol Hill Show” podcast every week from Washington, D.C.


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