Joe Biden just won a debate point before the debate even gets started, but it’s one the President can’t brag about to his most ardent supporters. “Record U.S. oil production helps tame prices,” is how Axios phrases the headline. Biden, whose administration is working to move the U.S. responsibly away from fossil fuel dependence, isn’t trumpeting the news.
That’s a stark contrast with his predecessor, Donald Trump, who as President put out a White House press release titled: “President Donald J. Trump Has Unleashed American Producers and Restored Our Energy Dominance.”
In a preview of the presidential debates, American energy independence has been a topic at the GOP presidential debates, with commentators like Fox News’s Sean Hannity asserting in the aftermath that “Joe Biden has unilaterally disarmed” the U.S. on the fossil fuel front.
The oil production data may be important to Biden in a general election, as he answers expected accusations from Republicans about “unilateral” energy disarmament, as Hannity puts it.
As the 2024 election looms, the GOP — be it in the likely person of Donald Trump or an emergent surprise candidate like Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley — plans to come at President Biden with a handful of accusations on the President’s governance that will play to more than just the MAGA base — energy independence will be near the top.
[NOTE: Recognizing that some of its culture war issues aren’t presently expanding the party’s voter appeal, Republicans — in addition to allegations of Biden malfeasance and age-related decline — plan to attack the Democrat on the U.S.-Mexico border, the economy, U.S. security in a war-torn world, and — closely related — American energy independence.]
The administration has been consistently attacked by Republicans for pushing alternative energy and electric vehicles, while allegedly hamstringing Big Oil and leaving the U.S. vulnerable to global energy disruptions such as those caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
[NOTE: Much of the stalemate over raising the debt ceiling earlier this year was over then House Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s insistence on major concessions for fossil fuel companies, couched in the language of American national security and energy independence.]
The #DefaultOnAmerica Act is an oily wish list written by polluters, for polluters.— Senate Budget Committee (@SenateBudget) May 8, 2023
In fact, 275 out of 315 pages of the MAGA bill are devoted to giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.
The D.O.A. is dead on arrival. https://t.co/XIMj3iMWIb
Biden may not be bragging about the record oil production because it’s off-brand for Democrats, but American independence — whether in the energy sector or elsewhere — has broad cross-party appeal and Biden will keep the record oil production stat in his pocket to combat accusations like Hannity’s.
Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) continue to accuse the Biden administration of a “woke” agenda that, in acknowledging and trying to disarm the dangers of climate change, pushes electric vehicles and other alternative energy programs while imperiling the fossil fuel industry and America’s security. It just became a harder argument to make.