From The Hill:
House Democratic leaders on Wednesday amplified their attacks on Wall Street oil traders, arguing that excessive speculation — not a lack of supply — is to blame for skyrocketing prices at the pump.
With gas prices tickling $4 per gallon nationwide, the Democrats are trying to counter Republican accusations that President Obama's energy policies are behind the rapid cost increase.
Behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Democrats hoped to attract attention to the speculation issue by staging a hearing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in an otherwise quiet week when most lawmakers have left Capitol Hill for Spring recess.
"Wall Street speculators are artificially driving up the price at the pump and causing pain to … American consumers," Pelosi charged.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chairman of the policy committee, echoed that message.
"The cost of gas is … irrefutable affected by rampant speculation in the oil market," DeLauro said. "That is something that we can, and should, do something about."
The average price of regular gasoline hit $3.93 per gallon Wednesday — up almost 60 cents since the start of the year, according to AAA. Republicans have been quick to pounce, arguing that Obama's energy policies are driving the trend.
"The president now says he supports the Republican ‘all of the above’ energy strategy for our country, but for three years his administration has made every effort to block, delay, and restrict new energy production in our country," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said last month. “He claims that he wants to address rising gas prices, but his policies are actually making matters worse for families and small businesses."
The Democrats are pushing back, noting that the recession reduced domestic demand for fuel, while domestic production is up to its highest level in roughly a decade. By simple laws of supply and demand, they argue, fuel prices should be falling. That costs are spiking instead, they say, is largely the result of excessive speculation.
"Of course the Republicans would like you to think that this is all President Obama's fault and deflect any blame away from the real culprits," said Rep. Edward Markey (Mass.), senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. "They are wrong. The current spike in gas prices is not about Obama. It's about OPEC, oil companies and Wall Street speculators."...MORE