In the 1970’s we had gas lines. Part of the problem was our reliance on oil from the Middle East and part of the problem was the government’s efforts to keep the cost of gasoline down. Those efforts together created the perfect storm. To put things in perspective, in 1969 a gallon of gas cost $.35 or $2.75 in today’s dollars (according to dollartimes.com). In 1978, a gallon of gas cost $.65 a gallon or $2.99 inflation adjusted (according to CNBC). By 1981, the cost was $1.35 a gallon or $4.46 inflation adjusted (CNBC). With the exception of 2011-2014, gasoline has generally stayed between $2 and $3 a gallon. Right now the price is over $4 a gallon, and obviously that impacts everything Americans buy. The Biden administration desperately wants to lower the price of gasoline before the mid-terms. However, there is some disagreement as to how to do that. The easiest way would be to open up drilling in America and bring back our energy independence, but considering who the Biden administration is beholden to, that is highly unlikely. So we are left with more risky solutions.
On Monday, The Daily Caller posted an article about one suggested solution.
The article reports:
Several economists slammed a Democratic proposal making its way through Congress that would enable energy price controls amid record high fuel costs.
Such a policy, which prohibits private companies from increasing prices regardless of market conditions, would have catastrophic consequences including energy supply shortages and increased inflation, the economists argued in a series of interviews with The Daily Caller News Foundation. Democrats have alleged in recent weeks that inflation is being driven by corporate price gouging and that Big Oil is using the Ukraine crisis as cover to raise prices and boost profits.
Oil is a commodity. It is subject to supply and demand. When America drastically decreased the amount of oil it was producing (under the Biden administration) and the amount of fossil fuel it was exporting, the supply shrank and the cost went up. The war in Ukraine did not help, but the problem was there before the war.
The article continues:
“I just can’t believe they’re dumb enough to do this,” Benjamin Zycher, an economist and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told TheDCNF in an interview.
“If prices are controlled at below-market clearing levels, then you get shortages because the quantity demanded is greater than the quantity supplied at the legal maximum price,” he continued. “And that’s why you get gasoline lines and allocation controls.”
The House Rules Committee announced that it would review the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act — a bill that enables the president to issue an emergency declaration banning energy prices issued in an “excessive or exploitative manner,” according to its sponsors — on Monday before reporting it to the floor. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who told reporters last week that oil and gas companies were exploiting consumers, promised that there would be a floor vote on the legislation this week.
The article concludes:
Economists, meanwhile, have also rebuked the argument that oil companies are price gouging amid the Ukraine crisis.
“[Retail gas stations] don’t necessarily drop their price as rapidly as what wholesale prices and oil prices are doing,” Garrett Golding, a business economist tasked with analyzing energy markets at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told TheDCNF in an interview. “Some people want to call that price gouging because it’s not in lockstep with where wholesale prices are. But the fact of the matter is, what they’re doing is making back the money that they were losing on the way up and that’s how they stay in business.”
Golding and fellow Dallas Fed economist Lutz Kilian published a May 10 paper laying out why gasoline prices haven’t risen and fallen in lockstep with oil prices over the last few months. They said pump prices are also affected by operating expenses such as rent, delivery charges and credit card fees, and that prices are set by retail gas stations, not oil drillers.
Democratic Reps. Kim Schrier and Katie Porter, the sponsors of the Sponsors of the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, and Pelosi didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced similar legislation Thursday that would implement a federal ban on “unconscionably excessive price increases.” House Democrats, led by Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, unveiled a companion to Warren’s legislation.
Democrats are not likely to let facts get in the way of increasing federal control over our lives.