House Dems Pass Gas Price Gouging Bill as Biden’s ‘Putin Price Hike’ Talking Point Bites the Dust

© AFP 2023 / JOE RAEDLEA mural of Willie Nelson is painted on a gas station located in the area known as the Permian Basin on March 12, 2022 in Rankin, Texas
A mural of Willie Nelson is painted on a gas station located in the area known as the Permian Basin on March 12, 2022 in Rankin, Texas - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.05.2022
The Biden administration has spent the past three months blaming rising US gasoline prices, food prices, and inflation on the Kremlin, dubbing them “Putin’s price hike”. Senior Democratic strategist and former Clinton aide David Axelrod advised the White House to stop using the term in March, saying Americans “don’t believe” the president’s claims.
House Democrats passed the Fuel Price Gouging Act on Thursday.
The bill, which would empower the Federal Trade Commission to sue companies caught artificially ramping up prices, passed by a margin of 217-207, getting no Republican votes, with four Democrats also voting against it.
Democratic Representative Kim Schrier of Washington, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, slammed oil companies for “raking in record profits and then putting those dollars into stock buybacks” while ordinary Americans suffer at the pump.

Arizona Republican congresswoman Debbie Lesko dismissed the bill as a populist ploy by the president’s party. “First they blamed it on Covid, then they blamed it on Putin…and now they’re blaming it on mom and pop gas stations who are often just struggling to get by”, Lesko suggested.

Frank Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said giving the FTC the power to crack down on oil companies wouldn’t hurt, even if they weren’t responsible for skyrocketing prices.
A pressure valve is pictured at a natural gas control centre of Turkey's Petroleum and Pipeline Corporation - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.05.2022
Drivers' Protests Demanding Lower Gas Prices in Bulgaria Lead to Traffic Blockage - Reports
“Even if it weren’t the issue, or even if you don’t think it’s the issue, what is the harm of giving the FTC the authority to go after oil companies if they are price gouging?” Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, asked.
The Hill expects the bill to die on the vine in the Senate, given that the 100 seat body, split straight down the middle between Republicans and Democrats, would have to approve it by a margin of at least 60 votes.
Speaking at a Senate hearing on Thursday, Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin blamed the Biden administration for the current crisis, dismissing the administration’s insistence that the federal government was not sitting on energy-rich territories, and that oil companies are to blame for the price shocks.
“If the administration’s argument is that industry is sitting on these leases…why don’t they do something about it?” Manchin, who chairs the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asked. “For example, if the concern is that too many leases are not being developed in a timely manner, the department could increase the rental rates over time to provide a financial disincentive against holding leases for speculation alone,” the senator said.
Manchin, who often butts heads with Biden and other Democrats over spending, suggested that the administration’s current policy was putting “America’s energy security at risk”.
FILE - Cars line up at a Sunoco gas station offering high-level ethanol-gasoline blends at a cost below regular gasoline, on April 13, 2022, in Delray Beach, Fla. Just as Americans gear up for summer road trips, the price of oil remains stubbornly high, pushing prices at the gas pump to painful heights. AAA said Tuesday, May 10, 2022, drivers are paying $4.37 for a gallon of regular gasoline. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.05.2022
Gasoline Now Averages Over $6 a Gallon in California
In a Senate testimony on Thursday, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland told lawmakers that the department would release a new five year schedule on offshore oil and gas leasing by the end of June, when the current programme expires. Haaland blamed the Trump administration for the holdup, saying it “stopped work on the new five-year plan in 2018”, giving the department “a lot to do to catch up”.
The Biden administration has tried out a number of explanations to account for soaring gasoline prices, rising food prices, and decades-high inflation to the public, with the president and members of his staff referring to the indicators as “Putin’s price hike”.
The Russian president has dismissed the rhetoric.
“An effort is being made to convince you that all your difficulties are the result of some kind of hostile actions by Russia, that you have to pay for the fight against the mythical Russian threat through your wallet. All of this is a lie. The truth is that the current problems that millions of people in the West face are the result of many actions by the ruling elites of their states, their mistakes, myopia and ambitions”, Putin said in an economic briefing in March.
“These elites are not thinking about how to improve the lives of their citizens. They are obsessed with their own selfish interests and surplus profits”, Putin said.
A pump jack is silhouetted against the setting sun in Oklahoma City on March 22, 2012.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.05.2022
Will Biden Cancelling Huge Alaskan Oil Lease Affect Fuel Prices?
Democratic strategist David Axelrod warned that the "Putin's price hike" talking point was weak and unconvincing.
"Now they've overcorrected and so for a few days [Biden] was saying, you know, everything is Putin's price hikes, inflation is Putin's fault. People don't believe that either, they know that they had inflation before this. They know that gas prices were high before this. They haven't dialled this in quite right yet. You can't blame everything in the economy on Putin", Axelrod said, speaking to the Hacks on Tap podcast in March.
The administration has subsequently dialled back the talking point's use, but it still occasionally appears from time to time.
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала