It’s been just two weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, but it feels like months. During that time, we’ve all gotten to know Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and possibly even looked up Ukraine on the map.
Zelenskyy is a fascinating figure. He earned a law degree from Kyiv National Economic University. Before entering politics, he was an actor and a comedian who starred in “Servant of the People,” a TV show portraying himself as the Ukrainian president.
Since the invasion, Zelenskyy has used his oratory skills to appeal to the world to assist his fellow Ukrainians against the Russians. The day before the invasion, he appealed to the Russian citizens in his native Russian. This past Tuesday, he appealed to the British Parliament with words taken from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II: “We will fight till the end at sea and in the air. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”
Like Churchill, who rallied the Western world against the Nazis from 1940 to 1945, Zelenskyy has rallied the Western world to help his country during this crisis.
The war has made an already difficult domestic situation worse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual inflation in the United States was 7.5% in January. The energy sector was the primary driver, with a 27% increase this past year. This was prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
And it’s not likely to improve any time soon. This week, President Joe Biden announced that we will no longer be buying Russian oil, which represents about 10% of the oil we import. When Biden was asked this past Tuesday by a reporter, “What can you do about skyrocketing gas prices?” Biden replied, “Can’t do much right now. Russia’s responsible.”
Really? Not totally. Let’s revisit what’s happened.
When Biden took office on Jan. 20, 2021, the average price per gallon for gas was $2.46. The week before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the average price per gallon had risen $1.16, or 47%, to $3.62. Since the invasion, the average price is up another $0.55, or 15%, to $4.17 as of this past Tuesday. His actions since the beginning of his term have resulted in lower oil production, resulting in more reliance on other countries — including Russia. He is clearly trying to pass the buck.
As president, Biden put a stop to the Keystone Pipeline, shut down all drilling leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and stopped new drilling leases issued by the federal government. Additionally, he stopped tax incentives for the oil and gas industry. All this meant less oil production in the United States. This was before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In contrast, former President Donald Trump’s policies encouraged domestic oil production and resulted in lower average gas prices and fewer oil imports.
Republicans on Capitol Hill are pushing for more domestic energy production. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) said, “President Biden should immediately reverse his devastating policies that are causing gas prices to skyrocket and are giving Putin leverage against the rest of the world and return to the policies that were working under President Trump to create American energy dominance.”
Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced the Energy Freedom Act with the goal of making “America energy independent again by accelerating federal permitting for energy projects and pipelines, mandating new onshore and offshore oil and gas lease sales, approving pending LNG (liquefied natural gas) export licenses, and generally speeding up solar, wind, and geothermal development.”
Increasing inflation has led to concerns among investors in the U.S. stock market. These have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. As of this week, the three main indexes — Dow Jones, NASDAQ and S&P — are all in correction territory, which means that they have fallen over 10% from their recent highs. Today they are down 10%, 12% and 18% respectively since the start of the year. It’s certain that the administration will blame Russia for this as well. Possibly, the question voters should ask themselves is, how did we get in this mess? If we don’t have a leader who can lead us successfully, maybe we need someone else.
The contrast in character between Zelenskyy and Biden is vast. Zelenskyy is staying with his people, risking his life, rallying his people to fight and rallying other countries to come their aid. Biden is pretending his policies don’t matter and that the mess we’re in is someone else’s fault. Pass the buck, Biden.