High gas prices have certainly benefited Cheney. He made millions when he sold his Haliburton stock which was exploding due to the rising oil and gas prices according to the Associated Press. But Cheney wasn’t the only one to benefit.
When George W took office, (and brought with him a team with more ties to the oil industry than any other in history), he, along with a rubber-stamp GOP controlled Congress, allowed gas prices to spiral out of control. The oil companies were among the largest donors to the GOP, and they have been paid back in spades.
After oil companies raked in record breaking profits over $100 billion, (and their CEOs made obscene abmounts even by today’s outrageous CEO standards), Congress still saw fit to give the oil companies $2 billion in tax breaks -- which even George W. finally had to concede that they didn't need. (Not that it will be taken away.)
I am not partisan nor naïve enough to say that the high cost of gas is completely the result of the bad politicians in Washington, but this administarion and this GOP-controolled Congress have certainly played a huge role in our present oil crisis. And we Dems have an obligation to get the message out! The good folks at MyDCC came up with these ten talking points that we need to get out to our neighbors and friends:
- When George Bush took office in January 2001, the average price of a gallon of gas was $1.46. Today, the price is $2.91, a 100 percent increase over the course of the Bush presidency. [AAA Fuel Gauge Report, 4/25/06]
- Under Bush’s watch, U.S. dependence on foreign oil has increased by nearly one billion barrels. [ EIA, U.S. Imports by Country of Origin and Annual Energy Outlook 2006]
- Senate Republicans killed a Democratic proposal to make gas price gouging a federal crime. Without making price gouging a federal crime, the federal government can only prosecute oil companies if they can prove collusion to control markets, a standard that is nearly impossible to meet. [S. 2020, Vote #334, 11/17/05; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/18/05]
- The Bush Federal Trade Commission has looked the other way when it comes to price gouging. Even during Hurricane Katrina, when price gouging was rather evident, the FTC investigation "found no evidence of collusion among oil companies in the 2005 gas price surge.” [ San Francisco Chronicle, 4/25/06]
- The GOP Congress has ignored oil and gas monopolies: Since 2001, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee in charge of overseeing mergers, led by Mike DeWine,has held just one hearing - two years ago - to examine high gas prices.[ USA TODAY, 4/25/06; Judiciary Committee Hearing Schedule, accessed 4/25/06]
- The GOP Congress has turned a blind eye to holding executives from the nation’s richest oil companies accountable. In November, when executives from the nation’s richest oil companies testified before the Senate Energy and Commerce Committees, Republican leaders refused to force them to testify under oath. [Cantwell Release, 11/8/05; CNNMoney, 11/9/05; Fox News, 11/17/05, CNN 11/17/05]
- Republican lawmakers who crafted the 2005 energy bill showered billions in tax breaks on oil and gas companies that that they later testified under oath they do not need. [Bloomberg, 7/29/05; Video Clip of March 2006 Oil and Gas Hearing, available here]
- In December, Senate Republicans – with Cheney casting the tiebreaking vote – adopted a budget package that included $20 million in cuts to Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. [Vote 363, 12/21/05; House Budget Committee, Democratic Caucus Analysis, 12/22/05]
- Oil and gas companies are constantly lining the pockets of Washington Republicans and GOP candidates. In the 2004 election cycle alone, the oil and gas industry contributed more than $20 million to Republican candidates and incumbents. In the 2006 cycle, this number has already topped $6 million. [Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 4/24/06]
- The White House’s failure to properly plan for the war in Iraq has caused a disruption in the pre-war supply of 900,000 barrels of oil a day from Iraq, the largest single supply disruption that is leading to spikes in the price of oil. [CERA, 4/24/06]
I would also add that the Democrats have insisted for years, to much GOP resistance, a simple and effective solution: raise federal gas mileage standards! This is a valuable, free-market approach; and it is long overdue: the mileage standards haven’t changed since 1985! (Imagine using a computer or cell phone from that year—-now realize that the fuel-efficiency of your engines hasn't changed since.)
Democrats once again have the high ground, lets get this message out there!