The Democrats are in full panic mode over continually increasing gas prices and have been desperately scrambling to find someone – anyone or anything – to blame other than their own policies. They tried blaming Vladimir Putin repeatedly. That fell flat for obvious reasons. Then they decided that there was nothing left to do but blame the oil and gas companies. As part of that effort, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi cooked up a new bill to stop alleged “price gouging” by these companies. The legislation is titled “the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act.” It would initiate an investigation into so-called price gouging and give them a new talking point on the rare occasions when reporters ask a Democrat about it. Some Republicans, including Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, pushed back on this line of attack, so now she is the new focus of liberal angst. Raw Story jumped on the story gladly, claiming that the GOP is simply protecting the industry and allowing them to profit off of the country’s misery.
Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers, Republican of Washington, is the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee but opposes legislation to stop oil and gas companies from price gouging consumers.
Rep. McMorris Rodgers on Monday claimed that making it illegal for oil companies to price gouge is “socialism,” something that’s done in places like “Soviet Russia,” not in America.
“The promise of America is free enterprise, not socialism, not government price controls,” she claimed, as she complained about the price of gas, which just hit a new record high.
Instead of unleashing American energy production, increasing supply, and lowering prices, Democrats are rushing through a bill to impose socialist price controls on gasoline.
The result will be long gas lines like in the 1970’s. pic.twitter.com/4BWnIGYTvJ
— CathyMcMorrisRodgers (@cathymcmorris) May 16, 2022
The message here from the liberal press is fairly obvious. The GOP is not supposed to echo the complaints of Americans regarding skyrocketing gas prices. If they do, they are simply “playing politics” or “defending Putin” or whatever the message is this week. If the Democrats seek a legislative or executive “solution” to the problem, you’re supposed to shut up about that also.
To be fair, McMorris Rodgers is conflating two different aspects of the bill, each of which are equally important points in this debate. The bill in question does not, in fact, immediately impose socialist-style price caps on gasoline. What it does – and you can read about it here – is authorize an investigation that would preemptively authorize Joe Biden to “issue an emergency energy declaration making it illegal to increase gas and home energy prices in an “exploitative” manner.”
So the Democrats are partially correct in saying that the bill doesn’t impose price caps in and of itself. It simply opens the door for the President to impose price caps while falsely shifting the blame to the oil and gas industry. Both are equally bad ideas, but when you’re scrambling for a life preserver as the raft is going under, subtleties are often lost in the debate.
The bottom line is the same either way. Republicans are opposed to artificial price caps that will push the oil and gas industry to curb supplies if they will simply lose money by being forced to sell the gas for less than it cost to bring it to the pumps. Whether those price caps are imposed legislatively or via executive order makes no difference.
What the Democrats and their willing servants in the media fail to admit is that the oil and gas industry remains quite competitive. They sell their finished products for what the market will bear as long as it isn’t at a loss. If one company wants to “gouge” by raising its prices, its competitors will take advantage of the situation while selling more of their product for less while still making a profit. The price of gasoline right now is the result of the supply and demand system, just as it always is.
If the Democrats want the price of gas to go down, they need to use the government’s influence to improve that supply and demand equation. Get more oil to the refineries and do it in a way that the product will still be profitable when it’s ready to go into people’s tanks. Canceling drilling lease sales while stifling available imports does the opposite of that. Also, fix the supply chain problems so that the available gas can be reliably shipped to the gas stations at a reasonable cost. Of course, Pete Buttigieg is probably too busy with other concerns to worry about the supply chain.
That’s really the sort of hard work the administration needs to be doing if they truly want to bring gas prices back down. But blaming Republicans and “Big Oil” during the midterm primaries probably looks easier and more politically advantageous. Hopefully, the voters are smart enough to see past this scam.