Democrats' gas price gouging bill could lead to 1970s gas lines, warns spending watchdog group

"The way to create a shortage is by putting a price control in place that encourages people to overconsume and discourages production," says Patrick Hedger, executive director of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Updated: May 22, 2022 - 10:59pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance is slamming House Democrats' attempt to place a cap on gas prices, which the tax and spending watchdog group warns could lead to a return to the gas lines of the 1970s.

The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act is currently being considered by the 50-50 Senate after passing the House on Thursday 217-207 with all Republicans voting against the measure. 

"The problem is Big Oil is keeping supply artificially low so prices and profits stay high," Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a hearing last week. "Now I think that when the market is broken, that's when Congress has to step in to protect American consumers. And that's what this bill does: It empowers the FTC to go after the gougers and empowers the agency to effectively monitor and report on market manipulation."

But the price gouging bill becoming law could lead to "the situation in the 1970s with gas lines" when the administration of Jimmy Carter attempted to combat "rampant inflation" with gas price controls, Taxpayers Protection Alliance Executive Director Patrick Hedger told Just the News.

"It is a thinly veiled attempt to institute price controls," said Hedger. "This is a bill that the Democrats, some of the most progressive Democrats, have pushed to essentially give the president and some regulatory agencies authority to cap gasoline prices.

"But that is the fastest way for us to repeat the 1970s because as expensive as gas is now, it's available, right? We don't have shortages of gasoline. The way to create a shortage is by putting a price control in place that encourages people to overconsume and discourages production." 

Inflation has hit a 40-year high under the Biden administration. Gas prices are climbing toward a national average of $5 per gallon.

"It's just history repeating itself in such an unfortunate kind of shameless way," Hedger said in an interview. "No economist worth their weight and salt will tell you that [a price cap] is a good idea. It's a pure distraction from the fact that the Biden administration has been canceling oil and gas leases, has been antagonizing the industry since day one with canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, and that Washington has been printing and spending money with reckless abandon that's inflating the currency."

Just the News reached out to the American Petroleum Institute to find out if they support the legislation. 

"This ill-advised and misguided legislation sets a dangerous precedent without meaningfully addressing the root cause of rising energy prices," said API SVP of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs Frank Macchiarola. "It's well past time for Congress to stop the finger-pointing and get serious about delivering real solutions that provide meaningful relief for American consumers. This starts with clear and consistent policies that prioritize the development of American energy resources."