White House press secretary Jen Psaki : "Our view is that the rise in gas prices over the long term makes an even stronger case for doubling down our investment and focus on clean energy options."

 Q    Following up on Weijia’s first question about workforce imbalances, you said that it’s a worker’s market and that some industries need to create more competitive packages, that it’s a good thing people have more choices.  Is that your way of saying that the White House doesn’t view this as a problem at all?

MS. PSAKI:  I think I also said in response to Weijia’s question that there are some industries where we’re seeing labor shortages; there are a couple of reasons for that.  But some of the people — the workers — and we’ve seen this statistically in a lot of surveys — people — many people across the country feel this is a good time to change jobs — right? — to look for a more competitive job.  What I’m saying is: Ultimately, that’s a good thing.  It is challenging in certain industries when they do have labor shortages. 

Some industries, in terms of some short-term ind- — industries that have short-term workers or seasonal workers, COVID is an issue there and continuing to address COVID.  In our view, putting in place requirements to provide more certainty, that’s an issue. 

Another issue is childcare, something we’re working to attack and go after aggressively so that we can lower the cost of childcare and make sure people have a range of options to bring more women into the workforce.  So, there’s a range of issues; I’m not saying it’s one thing. 

Certainly, we have concern about any industry that has a shortage of workers, but also, I don’t think we should undervalue the fact that many workers feel this is a time to look for a better job with greater pay and more benefits.

Q    And then following up on the questions about gas prices again — just kind of taking a step back, there’s some Republicans who have taken this moment where they’ve seen gas prices spike to criticize sort of the administration, big picture.  Right?  Canceling the Keystone Pipeline, halting leases for — new drilling leases on federal lands, saying that, sort of, the administration’s policies writ large have contributed to the rise in gas prices.  What’s your response now to that?

MS. PSAKI:  Our response is that, one, we haven’t — we haven’t cancelled existing.  There are existing leases that are continuing.  And just to be clear, I know you know —

Q    Sorry.  Not new leases.

MS. PSAKI:  Not new leases. 

Q    You’re right.

MS. PSAKI:  But just to be clear — and I know that’s been a criticism — so that’s why I said that — and not an accurate one. 

Look, our view is that the rise in gas prices over the long term makes it an even stronger case for doubling down our investment and our focus on clean energy options so that we are not relying on the fluctuations and OPEC and their willingness to put more supply and meet the demands in the market.  That’s our view. 

We feel that — but we also feel that there are a number of actors here, including price gouging, that we have concerns and we’ve seen out there — we feel we’ve seen; we’ve asked the FTC to look into the need for OPEC to release more — that are the larger issues here and that’s why we’ve been focused on those options.

Q    Jen — 

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