President Joe Biden is staring down a political wipeout within a few months.
A spike in oil and gas prices is threatening to deal Democrats a decisive defeat in the November midterms. The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose past $5 last weekend for the first time. It's a 10 percent jump from a month ago, reflecting huge consumer demand outstripping the available supply of oil paired with severe aftershocks in energy markets from the war in Ukraine.
The grim political outlook for the White House was compounded with an inflation report that came in worse than many economists expected. It showed prices for groceries, airfare, and rent increasing at their fastest pace in four decades. Biden has since doubled down on his pledge to combat rising prices and make it the top domestic priority.
But the surge in gasoline prices underpins the current inflationary spiral. It's burdening businesses with bigger bills for electricity, air travel, and shipping, raising prices across the board for Americans. There seems to be few options left for the White House to reverse the supply crunch. It already committed to the release of one million barrels per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in May, eased regulations on ethanol fuels, and tried unclogging ports.