by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democrats are so nervous about November’s election that they just wasted a morning in the House Energy and Commerce Committee trying to scapegoat the oil industry for the high price of gasoline.
“Big Oil is lining their pockets with one hand and taking billions in taxpayer subsidies with the other,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, in one typical statement. “Meanwhile, the American people are getting ripped off as these companies choose to keep production low so that their own profits stay high.”
It is difficult even to know where to begin with such nonsense. But before going into the granular details about the false and misleading Democratic assertions on this issue, ask yourself one simple question: Do oil companies make their money by not selling as much oil as possible when global prices are really high? Or do they make money by selling as much oil as possible when prices are really high?
Congressional Democrats seem clueless about how markets work. Oil companies, refiners, and retailers could not keep gas prices this high even if they wanted to.
More galling, however, is that the Democrats trying to point the finger of blame for high prices at private enterprise are pretending that they dislike high prices when, in truth, they have long pursued higher gasoline prices as a policy goal. The only reason they are upset about it now is that it is likely to contribute to their defeat in the midterm elections.
In the service of reducing carbon emissions, Democrats have long openly worked to raise the price of fossil fuel energy. They have done so by proposing carbon taxes, cap-and-trade schemes, higher leasing fees, and other measures to jack up costs so people burn less of it. This is why Barack Obama said, in answer to a related question about electricity, that his energy plan would make prices “necessarily skyrocket.”