CLIFTON – High gas prices have been a political boon to Republicans, who are linking them to Joe Biden and for that matter, all Democratic incumbents.
But now Bill Pascrell Jr. is fighting back.
The feisty congressman from Paterson stood outside city hall today, and more symbolically, across the street from two gas stations, to condemn “big oil” for reaping excessive profits as average folk were forced to pay $5 a gallon for gas.
Or, as a sign next to him put it, “Rich oil tycoons” are “robbing you blind.”
The sign also displayed some of the recent quarterly profits of oil companies, including $15.3 billion for Shell and $14.3 billion for Exxon-Mobil.
An impetus for today’s gathering, which also included Mayor James Anzaldi and Ed Potosnak, executive director of the state League of Conservation Voters, was a recent report by the oversight subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Pascrell chairs the subcommittee.
The report sought to find out why gas prices rose dramatically a few months ago.
Potosnak, for instance, said that the Russian invasion into Ukraine was not the main culprit.
Pascrell agreed, saying there is no doubt oil companies used the crisis to benefit their bottom lines. He said this occurred, because of price gouging and stock buybacks. Or in other words, oil companies enriched themselves rather than meet a legitimate public crisis.
As all know, gas prices are now falling steadily, albeit slightly.
Pascrell suggested it is no coincidence that the price drop is coming after he and others in Congress demanded answers on buybacks and gouging.
For the most part, gas prices have been a Republican campaign issue.
Theatrics have helped the GOP make the point that under Biden and the Democrats, inflation is out of control.
In CD-3, GOP candidate Bob Healey journeyed last month to a Turnpike service area and pointed to lines of cars at the pumps. Why? Gas at the time was cheaper on the Turnpike than elsewhere and Healey wanted to show how much people were hurting.
Up in Morris County, some intrepid Republicans set up shop at gas stations to register voters.
All that has its place, but for his part, Pascrell pointed to legislation, namely the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act that the House passed in May.
This bill allows the president to declare an “emergency,” thereby prohibiting market manipulation to increase gas prices.
No Republican voted to support the bill, which led Pascrell to observe in a statement:
“House Republicans keep voting to keep Americans’ gas expensive.”