Play it Again, Senator Cantwell 
Jun 29, 2011 at 2:53 PM
Justin Danhof in Business, Congress, Economics, Energy, Government Agencies, Government Spending, Liberals, Regulation
Senator Cantwell lines up for the kick. Will she succeed? (source: istockphototo)

In the comic strip Peanuts, one recurring gag involves Charlie Brown running to kick a football only to have Lucy pull it away at the last second.  Charlie Brown misses the ball, flies through the air, and lands flat on his back.  No matter how many times he tries, the affable character always comes up short.  

Allow me to introduce Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Charlie Brown of the U.S. Senate.  Every time gas prices rise, Cantwell takes a run at the oil industry and accuses its leaders of price gouging.  No matter how many times she lines up to kick these alleged price gougers, she just keeps missing.  

Last week, she was at it again.  Cantwell declared

Americans deserve to know what’s really behind the rapid increase in gas prices burdening families and businesses … Bad actors who are artificially driving up gas prices ought to be brought to justice and face stiff punishment.

Every time gas prices increase, Cantwell instigates the same tired witch-hunt.  

Are you sensing a pattern?

Cantwell’s antics would be funny if they didn’t waste taxpayer money and government resources.  In response to her persistent badgering, the Federal Trade Commission has launched yet another investigation to determine if there is manipulation in the oil markets.  It’s a fool’s errand.

When gas prices escalated in 2008, I wrote in the Christian Science Monitor,    

For years, populist politicians have dragged oil industry executives to Capitol Hill and accused them of price manipulation. Every time gas prices increase, liberal lawmakers direct the Federal Trade Commission to investigate oil industry price gouging. To their chagrin, the FTC has never found oil industry price manipulation. 

What evidence does congress use to back their price gouging claims? Try none.

Facts are a stubborn thing, but Cantwell is not the only politician to levy unfounded accusations at the oil industry.   Back in 2008, representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) had one of the most inane exchanges of all time on the House floor.  Staring directly down her nose, the current Democrat party leader told oil company executives, 

I can’t say that there’s evidence that you are manipulating the price, but I believe that you probably are. 

With those reasoning skills, I assume Wasserman Schultz is on President Obama’s short list for his next Supreme Court appointment.  

The only difference with this newest investigation is that the FTC has a new rule allowing it to punish price gougers.  This is akin to Charlie Brown purchasing a new pair of cleats to kick the football harder.  He will still miss the ball, and the FTC likely will too.    

Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, responded to this latest investigation by saying, 

I look forward to the news conference where the FTC and the elected officials who demanded this investigation will announce that – like every past investigation – this new one has found no wrongdoing by America’s fuel manufacturers. 

Don’t expect that will stop Cantwell.  She’s never let the facts get in the way of her opinion before.  


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