Chicago Rolling Ahead With Taxpayer-Funded ‘Gas Cards’ To Combat Rising Gas Prices, Inflation

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In late March, The Daily Wire reported that Democrats shot down a White House idea to send “gas cards” to the American people. The scheme involved doling out prepaid debit cards to certain Americans so they could use the card to pay for fuel amid rising energy costs. Simply put, some Democrats at the federal level feared that the idea would never work for a variety of reasons and so it was shelved.

On Saturday it was reported that Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) was presented with a similar idea. Starting soon, the city of Chicago will be sending “gas cards” and “public transit cards” loaded with money to impoverished populations in the city to supposedly help fight inflation and high gas prices.

Last Thursday, Lightfoot’s office issued a press release that announced a new program called “Chicago Moves,” which is a government-backed initiative that will provide “$12.5 million in relief funding for disadvantaged Chicagoans.”

“The program will be comprised of $7.5 million earmarked for $150 physical prepaid cards eligible for redemption at local Chicago gas stations as well as $5 million earmarked for $50 prepaid cards eligible for use on public transit,” the press release added.

“The last two years have been exceedingly difficult for many of our residents, in particular our most vulnerable populations. Through the pandemic, we have collectively faced tragedy, and many among us have faced accompanying economic hardship. Now, as inflation steadily rises and the cost of gas continues to soar, our disadvantaged residents are carrying a significant financial burden,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

The press release gave more details as to how the gas cards will work:

Up to 50,000 physical prepaid cards of $150 will be distributed to eligible residents via a lottery system. These cards will be valid for one year after receipt and may only be spent on the cost of fuel at gas stations located within Chicago. Applications are limited to one per household. Beginning in May, cards will be distributed in five successive monthly waves of 10,000 residents.  

To be eligible for these cards, applicants must:  

  • Be residents of Chicago  

  • Be at least 18 years old  

  • Have a current and valid City sticker with correct mailing information for their vehicle 

  • Have a household income at or below 140% of the Area Median Income for Chicago (available here

As for the public transit cards, similar rules apply:

 To be eligible for these cards, applicants must: 

  • Be residents of Chicago  

  • Have a household income at or below 140% of the Area Median Income for Chicago (available here

“Chicago Moves endeavors to provide much needed relief and ease some of this pain. By subsidizing the cost of gas and transit, this program will enable participants to save their resources for other critical expenses. Chicago is a city that moves,” Lightfoot added in the press release. “People have to be able to get to work, school, places of worship, medical offices, grocery stores. The goal of this program is to help make those moves easier.”

Of course, what Lightfoot leaves out is the fact that the policies of President Joe Biden and other Democrats are largely to blame for that inflation and the cost of gas. These big-government spending policies will likely only add to the inflation crisis, not alleviate any burden. Likewise, cardholders will quickly run out of money on the debit cards. 

For example, Biden recently lamented that the American people believe that government spending has caused inflation. “I’m sick of this stuff,” he barked at House Democrats in March, in reference to Americans who had correctly assessed the root cause of their economic woes.  

As The Daily Wire has noted before, Biden claims big government spending policies are not to blame for rising inflation but even the Associated Press has reported that is not true.

“Government spending has been a clear factor behind rising consumer prices, though it’s not the only one,” the AP noted in March while discussing Biden’s economic agenda. 

“But the problem is that Biden pumped more money into the economy than it could handle. Administration officials said before the relief package was passed that the greater risk was do too little to help the economy than to do too much. The implicit risk was inflation, though the tradeoff was faster hiring and stronger growth,” the paper added.

Biden also shuttered gasoline production in the United States through numerous regulations and comments that indicated he and his cronies would prefer to shut the industry down entirely. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg even told Americans on Sunday that, “until we achieve a form of energy independence that is based on clean energy” the U.S. would “still be vulnerable to wild price hikes.”

Nonetheless, Lightfoot is now pumping more money into the Chicago economy. This will, like any big-government spending program, exacerbate inflation woes. 

It also is not clear what Lightfoot plans to do when these cards run out of money.

Consider that currently, the average price of a gallon of gas in Chicago is $4.821. Small size cars typically hold 12 gallons of gasoline. If prices stay the same, or wildly fluctuate as Buttigieg indicated is possible, that means a gas cardholder will only be able to fill up their tank 2.59 times before they max it out and spend the full $150 allotted to them.

In other words, “Chicago Moves” — it would appear — is going to continue moving Chicago in the wrong direction economically.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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