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On Thursday, the Biden Administration announced that it is releasing the next Notice of Sale to supply additional barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) onto the global market, building on the more than 125 million barrels of oil that have already been sold.
The Treasury Department estimates that strategic petroleum reserve releases by President Biden and international partners reduced the price of gasoline by up to 40 cents per gallon.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Cecilia Rouse, the White House’s Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, about the recent changes at the pump and the state of the US economy.
As the first African American to hold this position, Rouse stated, “we have the fastest growth in the labor market in about 40 years in 2021.” She continued, “with unemployment at 3.6% and unemployment of African Americans at 5.0% which is coming off a 16% high. The labor market is relatively strong but could be better for African Americans no question.”
“Part of the reason why I was honored to be nominated for Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers is because his economic plan was about increasing growth and his commitment to ensuring that growth is equitably shared,” says Rouse.
Citing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed last year, Rouse states investments into communities of color will become visible with the aid of the historic legislation. She explains, “Increasing broadband, getting lead out of pipes, building and repairing bridges along with hiring African Americans and Hispanics for these jobs – President Biden is committed to ensuring that we all benefit from the kind of economic policies which are designed to generate sustained growth that can also be equitably shared.”
The Administration is also announcing steps to repurchase oil for the SPR in future years, likely after FY2023, to help stabilize the market and encourage near-term supply. These actions will enable the Administration to continue the work of shoring up supply and bringing prices down.
Asked about the status of an increased federal minimum wage to improve the lives of Black and Brown folks across America unable to weather unpredictable price hikes, Rouse defended President Biden’s incoming position. Rouse states, “The President supported a federal minimum wage when he came into office, however, it went nowhere in Congress and he would need Congressional cooperation to make that happen.”
Citing a reduction in cost of healthcare, prescription drugs, and health-related insurance along with the CHIPS Act, Rouse says these measures are being proactively taken by the Administration to lower the daily cost of living in America as Congress fails to pass his economic agenda.
“During the pandemic, prices cratered and they [oil companies] lost money. Now prices are high. The President is saying to them is that is a signal that they should be producing more, they should be investing, as opposed to paying back shareholders and pocketing the difference,” says Rouse.
Cecilia Rouse wants to #BringBrittneyHome
As the WNBA, LeBron James, and the entire basketball world pleads for Brittney Griner’s safe return from Russia jail, Rouse recognizes the geo-political complications of bringing Griner home while also supporting Ukraine’s efforts against an invading Russian army. Yet, Rouse remained adamant, “Russia should let Brittney come home.”