Senate

Democratic Senators Who Voted Against Iran Deal Blame Collapse of Iran Deal for High Gas Prices

Having two senators who opposed the Iran deal show up to denounce Trump for pulling out of the Iran deal was only the beginning of the hypocrisy exhibition.

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Displays of political hypocrisy just don't get any more brazen than the recent press conference by four Senate Democrats criticizing President Trump for soaring gasoline prices.

The Democratic Senate leader, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), claimed that the price increases were "directly" related to "President Trump's reckless decision to pull out of the Iran deal." What Schumer didn't mention was that he had voted against the Iran deal. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) also voted against the Iran nuclear deal, and he, too, was at the Capitol Hill press conference denouncing the high gas prices.

As for the supposed link between the Iran deal and gas prices, not even the nonpartisan fact-checkers at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center bought Schumer's argument. The Annenberg Center's FactCheck.org researched the issue. It found that other factors, such as robust global economic growth and a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to curb production, were more influential.

Meanwhile, Democrats ostensibly worried about the effects of renewed Iran sanctions on gas prices still widely resist increased offshore drilling or new pipelines here in the U.S.

Having two senators who opposed the Iran deal show up to denounce Trump for pulling out of the Iran deal was only the beginning of the hypocrisy exhibition.

The other two senators at the event—Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)—have both introduced actual legislation whose purpose was to raise the price of fossil fuel energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

As the Economist described Cantwell's bill in 2010: "Under her bill, the government would impose a ceiling on carbon emissions each year. Producers and importers of fossil fuels will have to buy permits. The permits would be auctioned, raising vast sums of money…The bill would raise energy prices, of course." Cantwell had a scheme to redistribute some of the "vast sums of money" to American consumers, but that doesn't change the essential feature of higher prices on oil, gas, and fossil fuels.

Markey, meanwhile, was, back when he was in the House of Representatives, the original co-sponsor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as the Waxman-Markey energy tax, which Republicans claimed would increase gas prices 58%.

Even today, Democrats on Capitol Hill are sponsoring legislation aimed precisely at raising gas taxes. Nearly 30 House Democrats have signed onto what is, with remarkable candor, called the "Raise It Act," which would increase the federal gasoline tax to 33.3 cents a gallon from the current 18.4 cents, and then link it to inflation. Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Brian Schatz have introduced the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act of 2018, which would impose a tax—they call it a "fee"—on petroleum products, including gasoline.

The rapid reversal by the Democrats from pursuing higher gas prices to blaming President Trump for them was a bit much for even some members of the Washington press corps. One of them asked Schumer if there might be some benefits to higher gas prices. Say, encouraging people to consider carpooling, public transportation, or buying electric cars rather than gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles? Schumer replied that he was for raising the mileage standards.

Those corporate average fuel economy standards are perfect example of a top-down, command-and-control approach, rather than a Hayekian approach in which change is driven by price-sensitive decisions by individual consumers. If gas costs $5 a gallon, individuals might respond by deciding to buy the Tesla or the Chevy Bolt or Prius Prime plug-in hybrid instead of the used Buick Roadmaster station wagon. Or they might make like Schumer himself and ride a bicycle.

The final bit of hypocrisy in the press conference came when Senator Markey attributed the gas price increase to American exports. "We are sending our oil overseas to benefit foreign nations like China," Markey complained. "Why do we send our oil overseas instead of keeping it here?"

If the Democrats ever want to offer an intellectually coherent alternative to Trumpian tariffs, they might ponder the logical implications of Markey's question. Would it really make everything cheaper in America if America didn't export anything but just kept everything here? Imagine if this approach were applied to, say, software, or computers, or pharmaceuticals, financial services, fast-food restaurants, beer, or ice cream, or motorcycles, movies and music. How might other nations respond to such a strategy? Imagine, by Markey's reasoning, how much cheaper iPhones could be if Apple kept them all here in the U.S. instead of selling them in other countries.

The Democratic complaints about Trump and gas prices, like many other complaints about Trump, are more about Trump than they are about gas prices. They are a political hit unencumbered by any discernible consistent logical or economic framework. That may not be much consolation when you fill up the car for a summer road trip. But it is the reality.

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of JFK, Conservative.

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11 responses to “Democratic Senators Who Voted Against Iran Deal Blame Collapse of Iran Deal for High Gas Prices

  1. How are Schumer and Menendez hypocritical to vote against the Iran deal and then blame its collapse on higher gas prices? They may be wrong about the cause of the higher prices, of course. But it doesn’t strike me as hypocritical to say “I was against it, but now that it’s policy, upsetting the policy will have bad effects.” This is like businesses that are more interested in a rule being stable than the particular contents of the rule itself?it’s easier to plan for the future around stability, even if some other rule is preferable to what eventually becomes the stable rule.

    1. While I certainly agree with your assessment of regime certainty, there is no historical evidence to indicate anything other than sheer hate and hypocrisy with a dose of ignorance on the part of the Democratic party and nearly every single issue under the sun.

    2. You don’t see how saying someone was wrong to do something that *you voted to do in the first place* and then blame the resulting negative consequences on their decision to do what you wanted them to do in the first place is hypocrisy?

    3. Your analogy is broken because it was never policy in the first place. Businesses do prefer stability but you can’t invent stability out of thin air.

      The much simpler explanation is that this is another example of Trump Derangement Syndrome. We were against the Iran deal when Trump was for it. Now that Trump is against it, we must find a different excuse for him to be wrong.

  2. Schumer and Menendez are only trying to make political hay with their statement. The cause of the higher gas prices even when the higher taxes are deducted that some states and communities have enacted is that there is much more economic activity going on now. That gives people greater confidence to drive more for pleasure. More confidence means more cars on the road means more gasoline (and diesel) being used, in other words greater demand. Much of this could have happened during Obama administration except he did all that he could to stop US oil industry from expanding oil production. That might have been because he was trying to push more electric usage. He made the situation worse because he would not consider a national tax reduction to spur business activity. He insead favored the government the government hand out money which only favors the few chosen companies and makes fewer jobs and makes the people dependent upon the government. But now that businesses have gotten tax breaks and are investing those tax breaks back into their people and their business people are more ready to travel and invest in more leisure activities. In other words drive more, which takes more gasoline.

  3. What? Gas prices are climbing at the start of the summer travel season, you don’t say. Here in Cali it’s just the seasonal switch to summer gas which knocks a few mpg from most cars and always seems to catch all the refineriesy off guard. I’m just glad nothing has burned down to further hinder the supply of gasoline as is usually the case.

    I mean it’s cheaper than it was in 2015 or 2014 or 2013 or, well you get the idea that the last two years it was really, really cheap.

    This just makes me wonder why Chuck and Bob don’t support oil industry workers making a living wage?

    1. Gas prices are up because world wide demand is up. This article is utter bullshit.

      Are there any morons that actually believe the Iranians have honored this agreement? Especially in light of all their rhetoric and evidence to the contrary?

      1. Yes. Reason for starters.

      2. Gas prices are up because world wide demand is up. This article is utter bullshit.

        Obviously you didn’t read the article: “It found that other factors, such as robust global economic growth and a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to curb production, were more influential.”


  4. …a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to curb production, were more influential.

    So, Democrats call things cartels that aren’t and forget about actual cartels. Par for the course?

    It’s why we heard for decades that America was looking for energy independence. Literally, OPEC was one of the reasons why. Are people really this stupid? I would imagine so, even while you can see the taxes you pay for gasoline (at least some of them, anyway) right on the pump. I wager few people realize that a big part of their gas bill is…the government taking their pound of flesh on a basic economic input.

    So, yeah, I find this hard to take seriously.

  5. The hypocrisy is that people who have opposed all efforts to increase our production and pipelines to bring the product to refineries AND also demand special mixes of gasoline then bitch and moan about the costs of gas. And also the ones who feel gas taxes are a great way to raise money.

    The idiot Republican legislature in my state (it’s not a coincidence that NO Republican governor ever gets along with the Republican legislature) decided to increase gas taxes for the NEXT SIX YEARS. Thanks, fucking morons.

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