Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has chastised President Joe Biden for blaming rising gas prices on gas station operators, accusing him of “misdirection” or a “deep misunderstanding” of economic realities.
In a tweet on Saturday, June 3 Biden wrote: “My message to the companies running gas stations and setting prices at the pump is simple: this is a time of war and global peril.”
“Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product,” the president continued. “And do it now.”
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Bezos, the country’s second-richest person, responded to Biden’s remark on Twitter later Saturday.
“Ouch. Inflation is far too important a problem for the White House to keep making statements like this,” posted Bezos, who owns the Washington Post.
“It’s either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics.”
The Biden administration fired back at the criticism on Sunday.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted. “Oil prices have dropped by about $15 [a barrel] over the past month, but prices at the pump have barely come down.
“That’s not ‘basic market dynamics.’ It’s a market that is failing the American consumer.”
“But I guess it’s not surprising that you think oil and gas companies using market power to reap record profits at the expense of the American people is the way our economy is supposed to work.”
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In an interview with Fox News, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby disputed Bezos’ accusation that Biden was purposefully misleading.
Kirby said: “We obviously take great exception at the idea that this is somehow misdirection. The president is working very hard across many fronts to try to bring that price down.”
The spat comes as Americans face high gas costs due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increasing inflation.
This year, gas prices in the United States reached all-time highs.
According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of standard petrol was $4.81 on Sunday, up from $3.12 a year earlier.
An industry analyst warned last month that if hurricane season creates severe interruptions for US oil refiners, prices might jump much further – to “apocalyptic” levels.
The Biden administration has attempted to place most of the blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s conflict, while also blaming oil firms for unfairly constraining supplies by refusing to drill on federally designated lease areas.
Biden told reporters that US drivers would have to shell out the big bucks for “as long as it takes” for Ukraine to defeat Russia’s invasion.
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National Economic Council director Brian Deese, also on Thursday, said Americans would have to endure pain at the pump indefinitely in the name of the “liberal world order.”
“What you heard from the president today was a clear articulation of the stakes,” Deese said during an appearance on CNN when asked about families who can’t afford the high costs per gallon. “This is about the future of the liberal world order and we have to stand firm.
“But at the same time, what I’d say to that family and to Americans across the country is you have a president, an administration that is going to do everything in its power to blunt those price increases and bring those prices down.”
The exchange with Bezos wasn’t the first time Biden and an outspoken American billionaire engaged in a war of words.
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