With gas prices rising higher and faster than ever, Democrats are firmly on the defensive, trying to deflect blame by calling for action on alleged energy speculation. It’s another hollow talking point, given that government investigations have consistently shown that the “speculation” scapegoat is not what’s driving up pain at the pump. Here’s what several independent investigations have already concluded about the cause of rising gas prices:
- Last Year, the Federal Trade Commission’s [FTC] Bureau of Economics Determined that “Worldwide Crude Oil Prices Continue to Be the Main Driver of What Americans Pay at the Pump.” (Gasoline Price Changes and the Petroleum Industry: An Update, September 2011)
- A 2008 Preliminary Analysis by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC] Found that High Gas Prices Between 2003 and 2007 Were “Largely Due to Fundamental Supply and Demand Factors.” “The Task Force’s preliminary assessment is that current oil prices and the increase in oil prices between January 2003 and June 2008 are largely due to fundamental supply and demand factors. … [T]he Task Force’s preliminary analysis to date does not support the proposition that speculative activity has systematically driven changes in oil.” (Interim Report on Crude Oil, July 2008)
- A 2005 Federal Trade Commission Report Concluded that “The Vast Majority of the FTC’s Investigations” Have Found “Market Factors to Be the Primary Drivers of Both Price Increases and Price Spikes.” (Gasoline Prices Changes: The Dynamic of Supply, Demand and Competition, 7/5/05)
Democrats’ finger-pointing is nothing new. Last year, following President Obama’s announcement that he was forming a task force to investigate gas prices, a CNN report said the president was taking a page from the “rhetorical playbook politicians have used for years when gas prices go up,” calling for investigations that “don’t lead anywhere and…politicians know it.” “That’s just ‘I want to pretend I’m doing something even though I’m doing nothing,’” said Amy Myers Jaffe, director of the Energy Forum at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston.
Sure enough, in the year since the president’s announcement, the task force “met only a handful of times and has never reported to the public.”
If Democrats are really searching for the culprit behind skyrocketing gas prices, they need look no further than the failed Obama administration policies that have blocked more American energy production and stopped more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day from flowing to U.S refineries via the Keystone XL pipeline - not to mention the onslaught of excessive regulations that are driving up costs and destroying jobs by putting energy producers out of business.
According to a recent CBS News survey, “sixty-seven percent of Americans say high gas prices have caused a financial hardship in their households.” Economists warn that “high gas prices could be the tipping point that brings on a new economic downturn.” Yet, with no relief in sight, Democrats are offering nothing more than smoke-and-mirrors political gimmicks that will do nothing to bring down prices or protect American jobs.
Republicans, on the other hand, have passed several American Energy Initiative bills to boost energy production, address rising gas prices and create jobs. Senate Democrats are sitting on these, and nearly 30 other bipartisan, House-passed jobs bills they refuse to bring to a vote. Speaker Boehner wrote to President Obama last week urging him to back Republicans’ push for an all-of-the-above energy policy that he claims to support. With gas prices heading toward $4 per gallon, it’s time for President Obama to urge Senate Democrats to pass these critical American Energy Initiative bills so they can be enacted into law without further delay. Learn more: facebook.com/americanenergy.