Looking for solutions to inflation, a couple of Republican presidential candidates at Wednesday night’s GOP debate pointed the finger at energy costs, saying increased oil drilling would bring down prices across the board.
But there’s one arguable flaw in that argument: The United States is already producing oil at a record pace.
In response to a question from NBC debate moderator Lester Holt on what could be done to immediately help Americans manage the cost of living, biotech Vivek Ramaswamy said, “Increase the supply of energy. That brings down the cost of energy, grows the economy.”
“Drill. Frack. Burn coal. Embrace nuclear,” he added.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took the same tack in his answer.
“When you go ahead and you tell people we are going to unleash every bit of American energy, every bit of its potential, what happens in the futures markets? The prices go down,” he said.
“We should focus not just on being energy independent. We should focus on being energy dominant,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
But according to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. oil fields saw their most productive month in history in August, surpassing the previous record set in November 2019, just before the COVID pandemic hit.
According to EIA data, crude oil production rose to 13.053 million barrels in August, the latest month for which data is available and barely edging our November 2019’s 13.000 million.
The White House has been touting that inflation ― measured by monthly growth compared to the same month the year before ― has been steadily falling for most of this year. However, polling shows price levels remain near the top of voters’ minds and Republicans have blamed profligate federal spending for the surge.
The Federal Reserve, which is in charge of keeping inflation down, did not raise interest rates at its most recent meeting that ended Nov. 1, a sign it was confident inflation was returning to the central bank’s 2% annual target.
But in its post-meeting statement, the Fed’s policymaking panel warned, “The Committee will continue to assess additional information and its implications for monetary policy.”