President Biden’s announcement of a U.S. ban on Russian energy imports came loaded with two phrases he wants Americans to remember: “Putin’s price hike” and “Putin’s war.”
Why it matters: Already damaged by inflation and other repercussions of the COVID-19 economy, Biden is using this moment to redirect Americans’ anger toward Russian President Vladimir Putin — and to try to insulate himself and the Democratic Party over crucial blame during this midterm year and beyond.
Details: The U.S. president’s short speech Tuesday included seven references to “Putin’s war,” one to “Putin’s war machine,” one to “Putin’s aggression” and another to “Putin’s assault.”
- It also included — notably — this line: “I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.”
The big picture: The invasion of Ukraine is driving up already climbing gas prices ahead of midterm elections that could cost Democrats control of Congress.
- How high they’ll go — and what other literal and figurative costs Americans will face — are as unknowable as Putin’s next moves.
- Even before the invasion, Republicans had made clear they’d try to blame Biden and Democrats for inflation and gas prices. Since it started, they’ve doubled down.
- The “Senate Republicans” account on Tuesday tweeted a call for “energy independence now” and a link to a Wall Street Journal article with a photo of $7 a gallon gas in Los Angeles.