More Rejections of Gasoline Price Gouging As Democratic Legislation Is All About a “Messaging Push”

House Democrats passed a bill on Thursday to give the Federal Trade Commission greater power to investigate alleged gasoline price gouging, but even the media is calling out the legislation as nothing more than a PR strategy.

The Hill reported that the bill is going nowhere fast in the Senate and was merely introduced by House Democrats to push a message and deflect blame:

“The legislation is unlikely to gain traction in the Senate, where it would need the support of 10 Republicans to advance, but it’s part of a major messaging push by Democrats as they try to blame the oil industry for skyrocketing prices.” (emphasis added)

Similarly, the Washington Post noted that the bill was designed to give the appearance Democrats were trying to address the problem – not that they’re actually addressing it:

“The bill seems unlikely to pass in the evenly divided Senate but was intended to send a message that the party cares about the pinch Americans are feeling at the pump and from ongoing inflation.” (emphasis added)

But a messaging bill isn’t the same thing as policy that’s built for solutions, and at the same time the bill was passing the floor, Democrats were undercut by the Biden administration during a Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing. While Interior Sec. Deb Haaland was testifying, her own department sent out a statement without her knowledge that again threw cold water that Interior will restart federal lease sales anytime soon:

“During testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources today, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland confirmed that, despite delays in implementation from the previous Administration, the Interior Department will release the Proposed Program – the next step in the five-year offshore energy planning process – by June 30, 2022, which is the expiration of the current program. A Proposed Program is not a decision to issue specific leases or to authorize any drilling or development.” (emphasis added)

Moreover, as Energy In Depth has covered time and again, claims of gasoline price gouging have been thoroughly debunked by independent energy experts. And as the bill passed the House today, there was even more pushback, including this time from House Democrats:

Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) voted against the bill and said:

“The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act would not fix high gasoline prices at the pump and has the potential to exacerbate the supply shortage our country is facing, leading to even worse outcomes.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) also voted against the bill and said:

“At best, this bill is a distraction that won’t actually address the problem. At worst, it could make the problem more severe.”

Oddly enough, Reps. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Sean Casten (D-Ill.) voted for the bill, but both made it very clear the legislation was unlikely to help Americans at the pump and was just merely “politics,” as Politico’s Josh Siegel reported:

Energy analysts and economists also continued to reject price gouging claims, including Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy:

The Democrats are creating this illusion that oil companies are somehow suddenly the ones that can determine price when oil companies, again, are takers of whatever the market determines.” (emphasis added)

Jason Furman, a former top economic adviser to President Obama, agreed, as Bloomberg reported:

But most economists, including many aligned with Democrats, counter that there’s little evidence such practices are behind the inflation crisis. ‘Corporate power is playing likely a very small role in the inflation that we’re seeing right now,’ said Jason Furman, a Harvard professor who led President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. ‘The primary solution has to come from the primary cause of inflation, which is demand is way too high.’ (emphasis added)

The bill could even make the problem worse, Bloomberg noted:

“Such moves could make matters worse — similar to the long lines for gasoline in the 1970s — said Ben Ritz, director of the Center for Funding America’s Future at the Progressive Policy Institute, a center-left group. And if consumers are expecting shortages, they’ll go out and try to stockpile even more, which could continue to push prices higher, he said.” (emphasis added)


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