Democrats Wants to Give Biden Power to Impose Price Controls on Gas

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Posted: May 13, 2022 10:00 AM
Democrats Wants to Give Biden Power to Impose Price Controls on Gas

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

With Americans nationwide facing pain at the pump, Democrats next week will vote on legislation giving the Biden administration power to bar oil companies from setting “unconscionably excessive” or exploitative gas and home energy prices.

The legislation gives the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general authority to crack down on companies in violation of the law.

Rather than work to increase supply, Democrats have been keen to go this route after profit numbers were released from major oil companies.

For the first three months of the year, ExxonMobil reported $5.5 billion in profits, more than twice the figure from a year ago. BP reported $6.2 billion in profits for the quarter, up from $2.6 billion in the first three months of 2021. And Chevron said it pulled in $6.3 billion, versus $1.4 billion over the same span last year.

Gas prices vary by region, but they’ve risen steadily across the country over the past year. The current national average, according to AAA, is $4.42 per gallon.

Since oil companies are reporting enormous profits, the Democrats argue, they can easily afford to pass the windfall on to consumers instead of shareholders — particularly amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has only exacerbated the volatility of global fuel markets.  (The Hill)

“Congress needs to be doing all it can to bring down costs for American families,” said Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA), who introduced the bill with Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA). “What’s infuriating is that this is happening at the same time that gas and oil companies are making record profits and taking advantage of international crises to make a profit. This must stop.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi targeted oil companies in a press conference on Thursday.

“This is a major exploitation of the consumer, because this is a product the consumer must have,” she said.

Such a move would surely bring shortages, as HotAir's Ed Morrissey notes

Price controls do not eliminate “price gouging.” They artificially cap prices to a point where producers and retailers can’t profit off of their work. Production inevitably falls off, which then requires sharp rationing of shortage resources, as we also saw in the 1970s. I still recall the odd/even pump days based on your license plate and 5-gallon limits per visit, as well as the 2-hour waits to get to the pump at all, hopefully before the station ran out of gasoline.

Fortunately it's pure grandstanding, as the legislation will be dead on arrival in the Senate.