Gas Prices: Democrats’ Untruths and Consequences

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  • 03/02/2023

In politics, ordinarily a party claims credit for making progress along the road to its goals.  Not so with the Democratic Party and climate change.  After all, with the climate apocalypse right around the corner, any reductions in carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption constitutes “Climate Action Now!”, and facilitates the Left’s end goal of transitioning to an all green, renewable energy economy.  So, what gives?   

Gas prices have skyrocketed under the Biden administration, which has caused consumers immense pain at the pump; and, ergo, major problems for the Democrats in the impending mid-term election.

Republicans have leapt at the opportunity to hold Democrats’ accountable for their “full-scale war on energy.”  Per Kerry Picket of The Washington Times, the House Republicans’ National Congressional Campaign Committee (NRCC) has produced a new digital ad giving credit where credit is due:  

“Joe Biden’s war on American energy began the second he took power, and now American consumers are paying the price,” Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement. “The blame for record-high gas prices lies solely at the feet of Joe Biden and House Democrats.”

Further, per Picket’s article, among the injurious policies pursued by Mr. Biden and the Democrats are: “slow-rolling oil and gas permits, canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline, banning new oil and gas leases on federal lands, halting new federal support for oil and gas projects overseas, and suspending oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).”

That the GOP’s energy message will resonate with voters is indicated by both the poll respondents and by the response of the Democratic Party, itself.

Regarding the latter, The Hill reported upon the Democrats’ strategy to evade the consequences of their energy policy.  

The White House is pushing a “permitting gap,” wherein petroleum companies are not drilling on over 9,000 permits.  This, of course, assumes that the land associated with all 9,000 permits contains oil, which is by no means certain; and, further, entails substantial costs to determine.  The costs of said research – let alone the cost of drilling a dry well – will be passed onto consumers at the pump, who are already suffering high gas prices.

On their part, Congressional Democrats are holding House hearings blaming “Big Oil” for gas prices; and both House and Senate Democrats are considering legislation to redistribute their way out of paying the price for their energy policies.

The House Democrats’ hearings won’t be subtle.  As related in The Hill, consider this joint statement from Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and investigations subcommittee Chair Dianna DeGette (D-Colo.): “While American families struggle to shoulder the burden of rising gas prices from Putin’s war on Ukraine, fossil fuel companies are not doing enough to relieve pain at the pump, instead lining their pockets with one hand while sitting on the other.”  Thus, House Democrats are accusing oil companies of not merely price gouging, but of war profiteering.  

Will the Democrats’ hearings work to shift the blame?  In a less than trenchant political analysis, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) said, “I believe so…  Big corporations are not very popular these days.”

Still, Rep. Titus, who also added to the Greek chorus of Big Oil war profiteering and the “permitting gap,” is hedging her bets by also jumping on the redistribution band wagon by co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) to slap a windfall profit tax on oil companies.

Not to be outdone, legislation pushed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) will not only punish Big Oil, but redistribute a portion of their ill-gotten gains back to consumers.  Riffing off the Putin’s “war of choice” theme and tossing in a “cartel” epithet, Sen. Whitehouse opined: 

“What we’ve seen as a result of the Russian invasion is a lot of speculation and cartel behavior that has dramatically raised oil and gas prices.  Note that the costs did not change, there has not been a similar spike in cost to match the spike in price. … This is a price increase of choice on the part of the big oil companies.”

The polling shows the Democrats have a tough road to ahead.  Per an analysis of a Quinnipiac University poll in The Hill, its headline says it all: “4 in 10 Americans blame Biden administration policies for gas prices.”

Of the other respondents, “24 percent say sanctions against Russia caused the increase in fuel prices, 24 percent believe oil companies are to blame and 5 percent say the increase is due to the rise in demand after coronavirus restrictions were eased.”

Of course, there was a distinct partisan divide, with 82 percent of Republicans blaming the Biden administration.  [As for the Democrats, see below.]  The sliver of good news for Mr. Biden and Congressional Democrats is that only 39 percent of independents blame the Biden administration’s policies.

In sum, Mr. Biden and the Democrats stand a chance of avoiding some, if not all, the political fallout from the record gas prices caused by their energy policies – despite the fact that the survey found “35 percent of Americans said they have had to buy less groceries in order to afford gas.”

Hence, the Democrats’ reluctance to claim credit for forcing Americans into a green energy economy.  Though the new party of Billionaires, Wall Street, Global corporations and Big Tech oligarchs, the Democrats’ old class warfare rhetoric has replaced their blithe suggestion to avoid high gas prices by buying an electric car.  Note, too, the Democrats’ suddenly muted paeans to climate change.   The reason is elementary; and is evinced in the Quinnipiac Poll: “Forty-one percent of Democrats surveyed say oil companies are to blame, and another 41 percent of Democrats blame sanctions against Russia for the price hike.”

Bluntly, the Democrats, as a matter of political survival, must compartmentalize their energy policy from their environmental policy.  The consequences of one impact the other, such as driving down America’s oil production in order to make these fuels more costly and, ergo, compel the transition to a “green energy” economy that will stave off the climate change apocalypse.

Clearly, the Democratic base has a limitless capacity for cognitive dissonance regarding their “lethargy” policy’s economic damage to working families – including their own.  The question is whether such cognitive dissonance can be imparted to independents; and whether the GOP can help disabuse the public of the temptation to succumb to the Democrats’ untruths and consequences of their combined energy and environmental policies.  

Time will tell.

As he describes himself:  The product of a misspent youth, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) is a guitarist, author, occasional radio co-host, and recovering politician.  He is a former U.S. Congressman from Michigan having represented that state’s 11th Congressional district from 2003-2012.

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