Why Republicans Are Having Gas Pains

Paul Krugman


By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

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Until just the other day, Republicans and conservative media loved, just loved talking about the price of gasoline. Indeed, “Remember how cheap gas used to be under Trump?” became a sort of all-purpose answer to everything. Is there now overwhelming evidence that the former president conspired in a violent attempt to overthrow the 2020 election? “Real America doesn’t care about the January 6th Committee. Gas is over $5 a gallon!” declared Representative Jim Jordan.

But now gas prices are falling. They’re down more than 50 cents a gallon at the pump; wholesale prices, whose changes normally show up later in retail prices, are down even more, suggesting that prices will keep falling for at least the next few weeks. And there’s a palpable sense of panic on Fox News, which has been reduced to whining about how the White House is taking a “victory lap.”

Actually, from what I can see, Biden administration officials are being remarkably restrained in pointing out the good news (which is probably a result of a slowing global economy). The larger point, however, is that Republican politicians’ focus on gas prices is profoundly stupid. And if it’s coming back to bite them, that’s just poetic justice.

Why is focusing on gas prices stupid? Let me count the ways.

First, while presidential policy can have big effects on many things, the cost of filling your gas tank isn’t one of them. For the most part, gasoline prices reflect the price of crude oil — and crude prices are set on world markets, which is one reason inflation has soared around the world, not just in the United States. Government spending in the Biden administration’s early months may have contributed to overall U.S. inflation — we can argue about how much — but has hardly anything to do with gas prices.

Second, while gas was indeed cheap in 2020, it was cheap for a very bad reason: Global demand for oil was depressed because the world economy was reeling from the effects of the Covid-19


Third, even before the pandemic struck, gas prices were unsustainably low.

Little-known fact: Prices at the pump plunged during President Barack Obama’s second term, falling from about $3.70 a gallon in mid-2014 — around $4.50 in 2022 dollars — to $2.23 on the eve of the 2016 election. News reports at the time marveled at Obama’s diffidence about claiming credit.

What happened? Mostly a boom in fracking, which increased U.S. oil production so much that it drove prices down around the world. As it turned out, however, that production boom didn’t make financial sense. Energy companies borrowed huge sums to invest in new drilling but never generated enough revenue to justify the cost. The fracking industry lost hundreds of billions even before the pandemic struck.

So high gas prices weren’t President Biden’s fault, and given the disappearance of the forces that used to keep gas cheap, it’s hard to think of any policy — short of creating a global depression — that would bring prices down to $2 a gallon, or even $3 a gallon. Not that Republicans are offering any real policy proposals anyway.

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But the G.O.P. nonetheless went for the cheap shot of trying to make the midterm elections largely about prices at the pump. And this focus on gas is now giving the party a bellyache, as gas prices come down.

It is, after all, hard to spend month after month insisting that Biden deserves all the blame for rising gas prices, then deny him any credit when they come down. The usual suspects are, of course, trying, but it’s not likely to go well.

Some right-wing commentators are trying to pivot to a longer view, pointing out that gas prices are still much higher than they were in 2020. This happens to be true. But so much of their messaging has depended on voter amnesia — on their supporters not remembering what was really going on in 2020 — that I have my doubts about how effective this line will be.

More broadly, many Wall Street analysts expect to see a sharp drop in inflation over the next few months, reflecting multiple factors, from falling used car prices to declining shipping costs, not just gas prices. Market expectations of near-term inflation have come way down.

If the analysts and the markets are right, we’re probably headed for a period in which inflation headlines are better than the true state of affairs; it’s not clear whether underlying inflation has come down much, if at all. But that’s not an argument Republicans, who have done all they can to dumb down the inflation debate, are well placed to make.

This has obvious implications for the midterm elections. Republicans have been counting on inflation to give them a huge victory, despite having offered no explanation of what they’d do about it. But if you look at the generic ballot — which probably doesn’t yet reflect falling gas prices — rather than Biden’s approval rating, the midterms look surprisingly competitive.

Maybe real Americans do care about violent attacks on democracy, overturning Roe v. Wade and so on after all.

If we continue to get good news on inflation, November may look very different from what everyone has been expecting.

China warns of ‘forceful measures’ if U.S. House Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 14, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

As if the world were not complicated enough right now, this is an issue that is not going to go away. Taiwan was below the radar until the new, more aggressive and powerful Chinese president emerged.


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BEIJING, July 19 (Reuters) – China’s government on Tuesday warned that it would take “forceful measures” if U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, after the Financial Times said she would go to the Chinese-claimed island next month.

Pelosi and her delegation will also visit Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, and spend time in Hawaii at the headquarters of U.S. Indo-Pacific command, the London paper added, citing people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it has “not received relevant information” about any visit.

Asked about the report, Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, said, “We do not confirm or deny international travel in advance due to longstanding security protocols.”

The Democratic leader’s visit to Taiwan had been postponed from April, after she tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, China said such a visit would severely affect Chinese-U.S. relations. 

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said any visit by Pelosi would “seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“If the U.S. side obstinately clings to this course, China will definitely take resolute and forceful measures to firmly defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said. “The United States must be fully responsible for all the consequences caused by this.”

Taiwan faces mounting pressure from China, which considers the democratically governed island its own territory. The issue is a constant irritant in ties between Beijing and Washington.

Taiwan, however, has been heartened by continued support offered by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, which has repeatedly spoken of its “rock-solid” commitment to the island.

Pelosi, a long-time critic of China, held an online meeting with Taiwanese Vice President William Lai in January as he wrapped up a visit to the United States and Honduras. read more

The White House had expressed concern about the Pelosi trip, the Financial Times said, citing three people familiar with the situation.

There were divisions in the Democratic U.S. administration over whether Pelosi should visit Taiwan, the FT quoted two sources as saying.

Some officials believed it had been easier to justify a visit in April, as that was just after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it added.

A spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council would not comment on “travel that the Speaker’s office itself has not announced,” and reiterated that the United States remains committed to its One China policy.

Separately, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Benfold conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit on Tuesday, “through international waters in accordance with international law.”

“The ship transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State,” it said in a statement.

The United States has been carrying out such voyages through the stretch of water separating Taiwan and China about once a month. This has angered Beijing, which views them as a sign of support for the island.

This month, China sent fighters across the Taiwan Strait’s median line, an actionTaiwan described as a provocation. The incident came during a visit to Taipei by Senator Rick Scott, a Republican member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. read more

On Monday, China asked the United States to immediately cancel a potential sale of military technical assistance to Taiwan worth an estimated $108 million.



Curriculum Vitae   JULY, 2022


53 Winterberry Circle

Cross River, NY 10518

Home Telephone (914) 763-1888

Date of Birth  June 10, 1949

Place of Birth  Wilmington, Delaware USA


Graduate: Cornell University Ph.D. 1977 (Government)

The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies M.A. 1973 (International Studies)

Undergraduate: Vanderbilt University B.A. 1971 (Political Science)


“Assessing the Trump Administration”, Political Science Forum, University of Oslo, June, 2021


Fulbright Senior Lecturer, Riga Latvia  Jan. 26-June 29, 2006 at the University of Latvia

Fulbright Senior Lectureship, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan, 1985-86.

Summer Fellowship Winner and Honorary Member, International Studies Association, 1975


Professor Emeritus Political Science and History, Mercy College, 2012-present

PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND POLITICAL SCIENCE, 1987-2012, MERCY COLLEGE, Dobbs Ferry, New York 10522 (Associate Professor September 1983 -August,1987; Assistant Professor, September 1978 August 1983 ); substantial responsibility for new course development and building political science curriculum; student internships and advising; Model UN Director 1986-2011





VISITING ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND POLITICAL SCIENCE, BARUCH COLLEGE / CUNY 1/77-8/78 (includes summer semesters 1977 and 1978); extensive responsibility for curriculum development and graduate student advising, thesis supervision.




RESEARCH INTERN, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 1971-1972 (extensive archival work).


International Relations

Comparative Politics (esp. Third World, but also Northeast Europe)

Foreign Policy (esp. US/Third World, but also Northeast Europe)

Public Administration / American Government


  • I have taught 112 distance/online learning courses in history /political science since 1994
  • I have developed an American History website for Mercy College http://faculty.mercy.edu/fshiels 

DISSERTATION TITLE: “The American Experience in Okinawa: A Case Study for Foreign Policy and Decision-Making Theory,”  Cornell Univ. 1977


Charles F. Olson Grant for Historical Research, 2002 ($10,000)

Faculty Development Grants at Mercy College, 1984-2004 totaling $18,500

Peace Studies Program (Cornell/Ford) Research Grants, 1975 and 1976.

Cornell University China-Japan Program Grant, 1976.

Cornell Center for International Studies Grant, 1975.



International Studies Association

FOREIGN LANGUAGES: French; basic Spanish and basic Japanese and Latvian

CURRENTLY: (2014) working on book on the future of progressive politics in the U.S., and a blog

https://progressivefutureusa.com/ , am studying and writing poetry at the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY… I have recently published poetry in the NEW VERSE NEWS and SiXFOLD, DEEP SOUTH REVIEW, and won the Spokane Washington state first prize in the Amy Woodward Fisher World Poetry Contest 2018 for metered verse

RECENTLY (2013)- I assisted Prof. Beerd Beukenhorst of the University of Amsterdam, edit his Book WHOSE VIETNAM?, a foreign policy study and conducted a seminar at that University in Janauary of 2014 on my own research on civilian casualties in American foreign wars


  1.  “The Elephant and the Fox: U.S. Latvian Bi-Lateral Relations”, 2007 article and paper presentation
  2. “ Globalization and Country to Country Aid Projects”, 2008 article and paper presentation, Turiiba, Univ., Riga, March, 2008
  3.  “The Helsinki-Tallinn Connection: A Case Study in International Mentoring of Baltic States Entering the European Union” project/article being worked on presently

 General Publications /Paper Presentation-PAPER PRESENTATION – June 2019 University of Oslo, Norway senior faculty Address (6/19/2019) on The Current State of American National Politics

SEMINARS-  Tallinn Estonia, Jan. 2013, Estonia Technical University and Oslo Norway, Oslo University, Public Administration discussing the Obama foreign policy and issues in US/ EU relations

PAPER PRESENTATION: “Why We Bomb: The American Calculus of Foreign Civilian Lives,” at Lincoln College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK, 3/2010             

 ARTICLE: “Whose Dead?: The Killing of Iraqis and Afghanis to Save American Lives”, 2004-2006 research and submission of article this year for possible publication in The American Prospect, a progressive-mainstream magazine

ARTICLE/PAPER for PRESENTATION: “Why We Bomb: Strategic and Legal Questions about Civilian Deaths in American Wars”, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, November 1, 2006


ARTICLE: “Whose Dead?: The Killing of Iraqis and Afghanis to Save American Lives”, 2004-2006 research and submission of article this year for possible publication in The American Prospect, a progressive-mainstream magazine

ARTICLE/PAPER for PRESENTATION: “Why We Bomb: Strategic and Legal Questions about Civilian Deaths in American Wars”, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, November 1, 2006

BOOK REVIEW, for Houghton- Mifflin, of James Q. Wilson’s, American Government, the edition, 2006 (one of the best selling American government texts and the one used at Mercy College)

BOOK REVIEW, for Pacific Historical Review, of Nicholas Sarantakes’ Keystone: The American Occupation of Okinawa and U.S./Japanese Relations, May, 2002.

ARTICLE, “Presidential Houses Seen Through the Eyes of Children,” in Presidential Forum, Indianapolis, Spring 1996

BOOK CHAPTER, “Misperception at the Top” in H. Wiberg and Paul Smoker, Inadvertent Nuclear War, Pergamon, 1993, [refereed]

BOOK CHAPTER, “The American Interlude in Okinawa: 1945-72,” in George DeVos and Koji Taira (eds.), Okinawa: Challenge and Adaptation at Japan’s Periphery, U. Hawaii Press, forthcoming

BOOK, Preventable Disasters: Why Governments Fail, ( Rowman and Littlefield, 1991)

ARTICLE, “Iran: The Unheard Revolution,” in Kyushu University Review of Law and Politics, April, 1986 [refereed]

BOOK, Ethnic Separatism and World Politics, University Press of America, 1983

BOOK, Tokyo and Washington: Dilemmas of a Mature Alliance

Lexington Books (D.C. Heath) November, 1980

BOOK, America, Okinawa, and Japan, (Univ. Press of America) 1980

BOOK, The New American Foreign Policy: A Primer for the

1980’s, (edited reader) Collegium Book Publishers, 1979

ARTICLE, “American Rule in Okinawa,” in December 1978 Ryudai Law Review (Ryukyu National University, Japan) [refereed]

Study of Civilian Casualties in U.S. military interventions funded in part by Charles Olson Grant (more information available on request)


Discussant, panel “Distance Learning Applications in History: USA and Turkey” at the Conference on Computers and History, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, June, 1999.

Symposium Paper, “Misperception, Multipolarization and History in Fast Forward,” Presented at the Conference on the Consequences of the dissolution of the Soviet Union for the Inadvertent Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, held in Parnu, Estonia, April 16-20, 1993. Proceedings published by the Estonian Academy of Sciences in 1993.

Panel Paper, “Okinawa’s American Interlude: 19451972,” INTERNATIONAL NORTH AFRICAN AND ASIAN STUDIES (ICANAS) CONFERENCE, Toronto, August, 1991

Symposium Paper,”Preventing the Ultimate Disaster: Misperception at the Top,” CONFERENCE ON ACCIDENTAL NUCLEAR WAR, University of Copenhagen Centre for Research on Peace and Conflict, Copenhagen, June, 1990.

Panel Paper, “Nuclear Disaster Prevention in Theory and Practice,” INTERNATIONAL STUDIES ASSOCIATION MEETING, London, March 1989

Panel Paper, “Iran: The Unheard Revolution,” AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION CONVENTION, Chicago, September, 1987


CONVENTION, Boston, 11/86

Panel Paper, “Ethnic Diversity and Third World Democracy,” NEPSA, Boston, November 1984

Chaired Panel, “Ethnic Separatism and World Politics,” NEPSA, Philadelphia, November 1983

Chaired Panel, “New Directions in American Foreign Policy” and Presented Paper “Preventable Disasters” NORTHEAST POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION CONVENTION, Newark, November, 1981

Panel Paper, ” Rationality Revisited: Bureaucratic Politics Assessed” NY STATE POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION, New York, 2/79

Chaired Panel, “Comparative Foreign Policy,” INTERNATIONAL