Progressives find new culprit in high gas prices and Schumer, fearing AOC primary, dutifully falls in line

(Video: Fox Business)

House Democrats are unjustly pegging the oil industry as scapegoats for President Joe Biden’s failing policies and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) appeared to follow their cues as questions of a primary challenge from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) remain unclear.

As the price of oil recovers from its spike after the initial market disruptions caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, now hovering closer to $100/barrel, the price of gasoline is experiencing a much slower decline from the record highs it had reached. According to Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the House Progressive Caucus, this is because of profiteering by Big Oil.

“We go after corporate America because corporate America is often profiteering,” Jayapal told Fox News.

Biden echoed those sentiments with a graph that depicted the rise in oil and gas prices since the beginning of February attempting to use it as proof that gas prices were not expected to go down because of greed from the oil executives.

Schumer joined this chorus while issuing a statement from the senate floor that argued the oil companies are engaged in stock buyback schemes using profits made from these recent spike without citing any evidence.

“It is outrageous to me,” Schumer said, “stock buybacks, they benefit the CEO’s because they can tell the shareholders, ‘see the price went up.’ But it’s not because they sold more product, became more efficient, hired more workers, used productivity; it’s simply decreasing the number of shares so the price goes up.”

The facts neglected by all of these claims include the reality that roughly 95 percent of all gas stations are independently owned and operated and that the price consumers are paying at the pump are reflective of the gasoline that was purchased by those operators for the supply they currently have. Therefore, the gasoline price won’t be reflective of the oil market until their next supply.

It also neglected the already rising trend of oil prices leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine brought on by Biden’s energy policies, and the fact that half of the price of oil is entirely reflective of government oversight.

Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president for the American Petroleum Institute used this logic against criticism in pointing out that, “Across the economy, retail prices in many industries go down slower than they go up – this isn’t a new phenomenon.”

“As we’ve seen in the past,” Macchiarola went on, “it takes time for changing market conditions to work through the supply chain and for the price of crude oil to be widely reflected in the price we pay at local gas stations.”

This isn’t stopping Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, from holding a hearing with the CEOs of EOG Resources, Devon Energy Corporation and Occidental Petroleum on April 5. The hearing is presumably based on Jayapal’s argument that it’s time to “hold these oil companies accountable” for their supposed profiteering during this crisis.

That hearing falls two days before the April 7 filing deadline to be included on the ballot in New York State for the June primary. Considering the manner in which Ocasio-Cortez unseated former House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Joe Crowley (NY) in an unexpected primary, it would come as little surprise if AOC repeated that performance against Schumer as rumors have permeated Capitol Hill since 2020.

Schumer’s decision to follow the lead of the progressive wing of the House suggests, despite previous assurances from his own state party leaders to the contrary, he is not prepared to make the same mistake that Crowley did and he wants to provide little difference between himself and AOC on major talking points for the next few weeks.


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Kevin Haggerty


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