Congress returns to town this week, so you can count on an assault on taxpayers’ money and common sense.
And nothing captures Congressional nonsense better than Republican attempts to out-Democrat Democrats on gas prices. There’s a populist demand to “do something,” in spite of a spate of articles calmly explaining why the gas prices reflect lower supply and higher demand — basic economics. Instead of explaining the facts and sticking to market principles, Bill Frist and Denny Hastert will reportedly request an investigation into higher gas prices.
The fact that Republicans won’t even battle the government interference mentality is a disturbing sign of how bad things really are in Congress. Without any evidence of market manipulation, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are threatening windfall profits taxes (by this precedent, will Congress bail out oil companies when they’re in the red?) and and sabre-rattling over large compensation packages. Typically, that means someone is doing their job, and shareholders are pleased with their performance. To Congress, that means a fine target for demonization.
Of course, Congress won’t consider how the federal government drives up fuel prices: taxes and the ethanol mandate (as the Detroit News points out). Also, as George Allen argues in his stump speech, the various state regulations requiring different fuel formulas drive up the cost of production. Congressional action won’t lower gas prices — it’ll just make sure the federal government gets a larger cut and passes the cost onto taxpayers through the pump.