Just when you were probably thinking you have too many different cards hogging up space in your wallet, feds were honestly considering putting one more in your monetary bandolier.
The Washington Post reported Friday that presidential staff were re-analyzing whether the federal government could send millions of rebate cards to lower the pain at the pump. However after looking into it, officials were flustered not so much by the size of the operation, but by the ongoing chip shortage, especially a lack of output in the still-growing U.S.-based chip industry.
Not only that, of course, but officials started to consider they had no real way of stopping customers from using the cards for purchases other than gasoline. Congress would also need to approve funding for such an act, and sources told the Post that would be a hard sell.
The tidbit about gas cards comes from two anonymous sources familiar with the matter, according to WaPo. Gas prices are a lingering problem for President Joe Biden as summer is already here, and the November midterms are just around the corner. Inflation of more than just gas prices is likely to remain an issue for the next few months, at least, but in the meantime earnings aren’t increasing to match the cost of living.
The White House had previously looked at gas cards back in March of this year as one way they could alleviate the pressure of gas prices, according to reports. However, the president’s office told reporters that while they briefly floated the idea, they dropped it after realizing it would be expensive and slow, having to depend on the Internal Revenue Service to ship the cards out to citizens.
The national average for gas prices is $5 a gallon, according to AAA. The pump price is as low as around $4.80 in Florida and as high as $6.42 in California. Many blame California’s gas tax for the high cost of gas, which is set to increase in a month’s time, but some state lawmakers like to point out the gas tax is only 11% of the total price of gas in Cali. Taxes are usually one of the smallest factors for how companies calculate their gas prices.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic state legislators have considered their own gas rebate program, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
The federal government has already released historic amounts of oil from reserves while Biden has written a letter to gas companies telling them to get their rear in gear and produce more oil. The thing is, gas companies benefit when gas prices are high, and they’ve been raking it in since the start of the crisis. Without legislation or regulatory threat, gas companies want to take their sweet time ramping up production.
The post reported that White House staff are scrambling for any new way to help consumers. So if gas cards aren’t going to cut it, what’s left to provide gas price relief? The Post reported they have considered telling state governors to waive the gas tax, but as already pointed out that might offer only small relief.