President Donald Trump criticized former President Barack Obama for gas prices rising in the past. But with Hurricane Harvey expected to push gas prices higher, it raises the question: Can a president really affect the price of gas?
The short answer? No.
In 2012, Trump tweeted that gas prices were set to hit a “record high” ahead of Labor Day, adding that Obama could have “stopped” the price increase.
Gas prices are about to hit a record high during the Labor Day weekend. @BarackObama could have stopped this.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2012
Several years later, Trump appears to think that he is now in a position to stop prices from increasing, judging from his past statements.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the Daily Dot about what specifically Trump thinks he can do to stop Americans from seeing a surge in gas prices, as he suggested Obama could have done.
While gas is averaging $2.40 a gallon currently, that number is expected to climb ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend, as gasoline futures—which reflect wholesale prices and eventually set the market for consumers—spiked 6 percent on Wednesday after flooding from Hurricane Harvey shut down one of the largest refineries in the United States. Gas futures have risen 13 percent since Friday, before Harvey made landfall in Texas.
Rising gas futures is directly related to paying more at the pump. “Retailers can either go out of business or pass their costs along,” Tom Kloza, director of global energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, told CNN.
So can Trump do something to save everyone’s wallets as they fill up the tank before the holiday weekend? Probably not.
Domestic production of gas increased during the Obama administration, but the United States still buys much of the oil it consumes from other countries. Essentially, gas prices are determined by supply and demand, not a stroke of a pen by the president.
While presidents can expand the production of gas domestically, it likely wouldn’t have too much of an effect on the price you see at gas stations when you fill up your car.
Also, economists argue, the price of gas rises during good economic circumstances and lowers during a bad economy, as demand for the gas is lower.
So unless Trump has a plan to tank the U.S. economy, we should expect to see similar prices at the pumps this holiday weekend—which, all told, is probably a better option for everyone.