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How much control does President Joe Biden have over gas? Group calls attention to rising prices during visit

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Posted at 12:10 AM, May 07, 2022

FAIRFIELD, Ohio — President Joe Biden's arrival in the Tri-State garnered mixed reactions. While he visited with manufacturing leaders in Hamilton, one group hosted a gas giveaway in Fairfield to illustrate the increase in gas prices since he took office.

The price at the pump jumped for the first time in a month this week, with many stations selling gas for $4.15 a gallon. One Cincinnati station's price was up to $4.39 Thursday afternoon.

"When you see gas go up 40 cents in one day, I have to decide whether to buy gas, buy groceries," Cindy Sullivan said.

Sullivan was one of 100 people to get a $24 gas card from Americans for Prosperity-Ohio, a libertarian conservative political advocacy group that said they wanted to “remind Ohioans of the true cost of (Biden's) failed policies.”

"That $24 is the difference between the price of gas when President Biden took office and today," said Donovan O'Neil, the group's state director. "The price of gas, average price of gas in Ohio, has gone up 71%. That's fueling pain at the pump."

But just how much power does the president have over gas prices?

Michael Jones, an economics professor at the University of Cincinnati, said gas prices are a microcosm of a larger issue.

"In the long run, the president and U.S. government can certainly influence what the price of oil is by making it easier to open up more areas of exploration. In the short run, there's not so much the president can do," Jones said. "Gasoline is just one of many products and services affected by inflation. That's part of the overall story. Rather than focusing on one particular issue, I think there's a lot that can be done to bring inflation down. And bringing inflation down would bring down gas prices."

Jones said several factors drive inflation — the stimulus checks people received last year, the hold on student loan payments and supply chain issues are all components. The president has a bully pulpit, though.

"In the immediate future, actions may not translate into changes in inflation," Jones said. "His words themselves do matter. That's why everyone is paying attention to what he's saying."

For people like Sullivan, change can't come fast enough.

"It's very very frustrating for the people on limited incomes," said Sullivan.

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