The Do-Something Congress

Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed HR 1252, a bill aimed at "gasoline price gouging." How bad was it? Let's sample opinion from around the web:

  • Robert J. Samuelson in today's WaPo glories in the contradiction of politicians who decry the high price of gasoline, while near-simultaneously fearmongering on global warming:

    Americans want to stop global warming. They want to cut oil imports. They want cheaper energy. Who will tell them that they can't have it all? Not our "leaders."

  • Over at the Club For Growth, Andrew Roth has compiled a sampling of critical editorial opinion. Even the reliably slightly-liberal USA Today has strong words:

    This is becoming a spring ritual, as predictable and irritating as pollen borne on a late May breeze. Prime driving season arrives, gasoline supplies can't keep up with the demand, prices rise, and politicians play on the public's anger to curry favor. An allergic reaction is in order.

  • You wouldn't expect our own state's Union Leader to like the bill, and you wouldn't be disappointed:

    The price-gouging bill is a backdoor attempt at price controls, which inevitably fail and inevitably hurt consumers in the process. The public can always vote on prices with their cars.

  • We've previously quoted George F. Will on the issue, but we'll go back to the will again:

    Pelosi announced herself "particularly concerned" that the highest price of gasoline recently was in her San Francisco district -- $3.49. So she endorses HR 1252 to protect consumers from "price gouging," defined, not altogether helpfully, by a blizzard of adjectives and adverbs. Gouging occurs when gasoline prices are "unconscionably" excessive, or sellers raise prices "unreasonably" by taking "unfair" advantage of "unusual" market conditions, or when the price charged represents a "gross" disparity from the price of crude oil, or when the amount charged "grossly" exceeds the price at which gasoline is obtainable in the same area. The bill does not explain how a gouger can gouge when his product is obtainable more cheaply nearby. Actually, Pelosi's constituents are being gouged by people like Pelosi -- by government. While oil companies make about 13 cents on a gallon of gasoline, the federal government makes 18.4 cents (the federal tax) and California's various governments make 40.2 cents (the nation's third-highest gasoline tax). Pelosi's San Francisco collects a local sales tax of 8.5 percent -- higher than the state's average for local sales taxes.

And there's more, lots more, out there.

Support for HR 1252 is either sheer demagogic posturing, or total economic illiteracy. (Shorter: Dishonest or stupid. Pick one. Or, possibly, both.) Mine own Congresscritter, Carol Shea-Porter, voted for this travesty. So did New Hampshire's other representative, Paul Hodes. As did all but one of the Democrats who voted. As did, disgustingly, over a quarter of the Republicans who voted.

Could we please get some adult supervision here, before these bozos do some real damage?

Last Modified 2012-10-19 1:34 PM EDT