Biden says Americans should 'rest easy' about gas, goods prices this Thanksgiving

President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE, in Tuesday remarks about the rising costs of goods and gas this Thanksgiving, argued in an optimistic tone that the economy is ready for the holiday rush. 

The president said that high gas prices are a problem in the U.S. and globally. But he touted the release by the Department of Energy of 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which the White House announced earlier on Tuesday. 

“This is a problem, not just here in the United States, but around the world,” Biden said in remarks at the White House, referencing the record-high cost of gas in Europe and Asia.

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He noted previous recent spikes in gas prices, including those in 2012, 2014 and 2019.

“The fact is we always get through those spikes, but we’re going to get through this one as well as hopefully faster,” he said. 

Of the 50 million barrels being released from the reserve, 32 million will eventually be returned to it over the coming years once fuel prices fall back down in a bid to ensure the reserve remains stocked. Another 18 million barrels will be released as an acceleration of an oil sale Congress had already authorized. 

The announcement was made in concert with India, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom, all of which agreed to release oil from their own reserves. Biden said he brought those countries together and added that “China may do more as well.”

Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the oil and gas industry acted in any illegal or anti-competitive way that could result in higher gas prices for consumers. He also called the attribution of his administration's environmental measures a “myth."

“My effort to combat climate change is not raising the price of gas,” he said.

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Biden was overall positive about the economy going into Thanksgiving, and said that Americans should “rest easy” about being able to get food and gifts for their families.

The holiday shopping season, which unofficially starts on Black Friday, will be a major test for Biden’s economy and its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Retailers and manufacturers are bracing for a surge of shopping and travel after three straight months of growing pressure on supply lines, and Republicans are more than ready to accuse Biden of ruining the holidays if goods don’t move smoothly.

“Moms and dads are worried, asking will there be enough food we can afford to buy for the holidays, will we be able to get Christmas presents to the kids on time and if so, will they cost me an arm and a leg,” Biden said in his remarks on Tuesday.

“All these concerns a few weeks ago, there would not be ample food available for Thanksgiving, so many people talked about that, understandably. But families can rest easy. Grocery stores are well-stocked with turkey and everything else you need for Thanksgiving and the major retailers I mentioned have confirmed that their shelves will be well-stocked in stores this holiday season,” he added.

He outlined the administration’s port action plan, highlighting that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are moving to 24/7 service, and said he has been meeting with CEOs of Walmart, Target, Home Depot and TJ Maxx, all of whom have agreed to move products more quickly.

There has been a 33 percent reduction in sitting containers blocking movement at ports, according to the president. Shipping prices are also down 25 percent.

“This Thanksgiving we have so much to be grateful for. Vaccines that are effective, safe, and free. Promising new treatments providing for hope that we can bring an end to the worst tragedies of this crisis. Record job growth, the strongest recovery in the world, and most of all, a chance to be together again with the people we love on Thanksgiving,” he said. 

The president’s remarks on the economy follow his announcement on Monday that he would renominate Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to continue in the role as the U.S. faces challenges on the road to a full economic recovery. He also selected Fed Governor Lael Brainard to serve as vice chair.