by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Gasoline prices statewide surged 19 cents in one week to top $6 a gallon here Wednesday, with analysts warning that California’s record prices could soar higher still and spread to the rest of the country.
It’s not much better nationwide, where all 50 states for the first time ever hit an average price above $4 a gallon. Democrats know they’re in trouble heading into the midterms and are promising to do everything they can to ease the pain at the pump. So far, it’s more talk than results-driven action.
President Biden weeks ago predicted gas prices would soon ease in response to steps he took, including a decision to release 180 million barrels of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next six months. But prices have continued to rise, and Democrats haven’t budged off their talking points – blaming the record gas prices on the three Ps: the pandemic, Putin, and price-gouging.
On Thursday, a closely divided House passed a measure targeting profiteering by oil companies – even though most economists, including prominent Democrats, have said there’s little evidence that such practices are behind the higher prices.
Jason Furman, President Obama’s top economic advisor, called the price-gouging measure’s call for fines on corporations for raising prices and price controls on gasoline “genuinely terrible ideas.” Democrats are under pressure to address the soaring prices, but the blame game isn’t doing anything to provide relief at the pump. Instead, it’s handing Republicans easy attack lines ahead of the pivotal congressional midterms.
Republicans for months have assailed Democrats for sticking to their green agenda as oil and gas prices have shot through the roof, including continuing to back carbon fees and higher gas taxes and oppose more drilling.