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Biden sees no quick fix on gas costs, weighs Russian crude price cap

© BloombergUS President Joe Biden may favour a windfall tax, but analysts don't think the US will put one in place.
US President Joe Biden may favour a windfall tax, but analysts don't think the US will put one in place.

The US has no immediate way to slash the price Americans are paying for gasoline, and is considering other proposals such as trying to set a lower price for sale of Russian crude, President Joe Biden said.

“The idea we’re going to be able to, you know, click a switch and bring down the cost of gasoline is not likely in the near-term, nor is it with regard to food,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

High prices for gas and food have emerged as an explosive political problem for Biden, whose party faces the loss of one or both chambers of Congress in November’s midterm elections.

Gas prices in the US now average $4.67 a gallon, a record, according to the American Automobile Association.

The US has tapped strategic reserves to try and limit the pain, and Biden asserted Wednesday that his administration’s efforts helped keep prices at the pump from going even higher.

With Europe moving toward curtailing its purchases of Russian oil, Biden signalled the US could allow certain Russian crude sales to be subjected to a price cap.

“There’s a whole lot of consideration going on about what can be done to maybe even purchase the oil but at a limited price, so that it has to be sold — there’d be an overwhelming need for the Russians to sell it and it would be sold for a significantly lower price than the market is generating now,” he said. “There’s a lot going on right now.”

He gave no further detail.

Biden said the pain extends to food prices, and that US officials are continuing to try to free grain that’s been trapped by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, typically a major food exporter.

“We’re trying to work through, you know, a war. We’re trying to work through how we can get that harbour opened, and get the tens of thousands of tons of grain that are there. The same with gasoline,” he said.

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