U.S. Sen. Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, in a much-mocked photo depicting gas prices at $3.99 per gallon. (Courtesy Todd Young)
U.S. Sen. Todd Young faced a social media pile-on this week after a post bashing gas prices. But behind the mocking, millions of Hoosiers are still struggling to stretch their dollars amid inflation.
The Indiana Republican is up against Democrat Thomas McDermott, the mayor of Hammond, and Libertarian James Sceniak on Election Day, Nov. 8. Young has centered his campaign messaging on inflation, and has pinned economic blame on Democrat President Joe Biden and a Democrat-controlled Congress.
“When Republicans were in control, we lowered taxes [and] we lightened regulations. The economy was poised for takeoff when we emerged from the global pandemic,” Young said at the race’s single debate on October 16. “All of that was interrupted under Democratic control.”
The senator also told the Indiana Capital Chronicle that his top concern in office is addressing inflation.
“Washington has catalyzed inflation and exacerbated it through ill-advised actions,” Young said. “Inflation is the cruelest form of taxation … at the federal level, that means stopping expenditures to the tune of trillions of dollars — money we don’t have on, things we don’t need, on consumption that doesn’t make us more productive or longer term and therefore does not lead to lower prices.”
But an attempt to galvanize gas price-based opposition to Biden went awry Tuesday.
Young tweeted an after-dark picture of himself on the campaign trail, with one hand wrapped around a gas pump, a stern, determined expression on his face, and the $3.99-per-gallon price in view — but no car in sight.
His opponents seized gleefully on the misstep, piling 2,300 mostly mocking quote tweets and 9,600 comments onto a post with just 1,000 likes. Even some pseudo-celebrities got in on the fun.
McDermott also joined in, remarking on Young’s “INVISIBLE CAR” and characterizing him as “the type of Senator that has staffers fill up his car for sure” in a quote tweet.
A spokesperson for Young’s campaign told the Indiana Capital Chronicle that Young was standing next to a car, however.
“The car is out of frame, but the Biden Administration’s policies are squarely to blame for 40-year high inflation that is hurting Hoosier families by driving record price increases for housing, at the grocery, and, yes, at the gas pump,” Young’s campaign said.
Biden’s administration, meanwhile, is putting gas prices front-and-center even as it argues they’re a non-issue.
“Gas prices have declined by an average of $1.22 per gallon nationwide since their June peak – a decline of 24% over more than 18 weeks,” the administration noted in a news release Monday.
“President Biden is committed to doing everything in his power to bring prices down for American families,” it continued, adding that Biden will continue releasing oil from the county’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve through December and maintain pressure on oil and gas companies to make prices at the pump reflect lower wholesale prices.
Indiana’s gas prices are above the U.S. average, according to AAA: $3.88 a gallon on Wednesday compared to an average $3.76.
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