Could price controls be Biden's answer to inflation?
Miller Center Associate Professor Guian McKee looks at the history of presidents and price controls for The Hill
Analysis of the Russian attack on Ukraine has rightly focused on the strategic, military, and humanitarian considerations of the conflict itself. Very soon, however, domestic implications will begin to impinge on the geo-political. Maintaining public support will be critical as President Joe Biden and other democratic leaders around the world ask their citizens to sacrifice for the cause of countering Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The pressing nature of this challenge is made obvious by the ban on Russian energy imports that President Biden announced on March 8. Cutting off the revenue that Russian oil and gas sales generate for the Kremlin is of clear strategic importance, but most analysts agree that it will raise gas and other energy prices for consumers. Such hikes will come on top of the existing inflation problem with which the Biden Administration has struggled for months.
To date, public enthusiasm for the Ukrainian cause has run high. If the conflict drags out through the spring and summer months, however, a real risk exists that high gas and other prices could undermine public support, thus weakening the Western position against Russia. Although blaming the president for high gas prices is not actually a rational position given the global nature of energy markets, the reality is that many Americans remain dependent on gasoline to do their jobs and meet their own families’ needs. Many have little economic cushion against such a rise in gas prices.