National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Wednesday called on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to move faster to restore global supply of petroleum to pre-pandemic levels, and the White House asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the domestic gasoline market for any anti-competitive behavior that could be increasing prices.
The joint actions come as the administration is increasingly sensitive to rising prices across the economy as it faces both political and policy pressure from inflation.
"Higher gasoline costs, if left unchecked, risk harming the ongoing global recovery," Sullivan said in a statement. He said the administration was pressuring OPEC and producers allied with the cartel to more quickly undo the production cuts put in place at the start of the pandemic.
"The production cuts made during the pandemic should be reversed as the global economy recovers in order to lower prices for consumers," Biden said Wednesday. Biden's National Economic Council director, Brian Deese, asked the FTC head, Lina Khan, to "monitor the U.S. gasoline market and address any illegal conduct that might be contributing to price increases for consumers at the pump." The FTC is an independent agency and may take advice, but not direction, from the White House.
Wednesday's report from the Labor Department showed that consumer prices jumped 0.5% from June to July, down from the previous monthly increase of 0.9%. They have increased a substantial 5.4% compared with a year earlier, erasing much of the benefit to workers from higher pay.