High Gas Prices = "Stick 'Em Up!"
By Angie Paccione
You are paying nearly $3.00 a gallon for gas, while Big Oil is making billions in record profits. Coincidence? Hardly.
ExxonMobil raked in $8.4 billion in the first quarter of this year alone, and other oil companies are following close behind. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that working Americans are the victims of highway robbery, and that the Republican-controlled Congress and the White House are accomplices to the crime.
Stick ’em up!
As gas prices approach a record high, oil companies shrug their shoulders and pretend they can’t control the market. And Republicans leaders shrug their shoulders and pretend they can’t control the oil companies. The GOP consistently receives the majority of Big Oil’s millions in campaign contributions, 84 percent in the current election cycle. Another coincidence? Not on your life.
In the past, Congress—including Marilyn Musgrave, my opponent in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District—not only has refused to make Big Oil pay its fair share or to implement tough penalties for price gouging, it has actually approved $8.4 billion in giveaways to the oil and gas industry and shied away from sensible fuel efficiency standards.
Now the Republican leadership, hoping to avoid public backlash, is scrambling to condemn the high prices and calling for action. With a wink and a nod to oil executives, they’ve demanded the President do something to help the American people.
And what does President Bush do? He does another favor for the oil companies, rolling back environmental regulations for gasoline, effectively padding the pockets of the CEOs while giving them more incentive to pollute.
Americans are too smart to be duped like this. We know hypocrisy when we see it, and this is hypocrisy in its most blatant form. Had the people in charge of Washington, D.C. actually cared about us normal folks driving to work, to the store, to pick our kids up from school, they would have reined in these highway robbers a long time ago. But time and again they let them run wild, in exchange for millions of dollars in campaign contributions -- $141 million in contributions to the Republican Party since 1990, and $56,000 to Marilyn Musgrave in the last three election cycles.
Worse yet, that money is coming from our wallets.
Nearly all experts agree that Bush’s short-term solutions will have little effect on the price at the pump. Republican leaders have offered plans that are shortsighted at best, and backward looking at their worst. We need to go beyond these feeble attempts at reform and establish policies that will hold Big Oil accountable, increase fuel efficiency, and bring gas prices down to realistic levels. We shouldn’t be paying more to drive to the store to get a gallon of milk than we pay for the milk itself.
It’s up to us: We can have more of the same policies that reward the pickpockets and punish hard-earning workers, or we can have real reform. I think it’s plain to see that we need to take a new road to energy independence and consumer fairness.
We should also steer toward alternative energy sources, which are the key to economic revitalization of agricultural regions, to national security, and, ultimately, to reducing the cost of gas.
We can all do our part, as well. For starters, making fewer trips each day will save energy and lessen demand, which can help bring down prices in the long run.
But most important, don’t be fooled by the people in Congress who are bought and sold by Big Oil.
Angie Paccione, PhD, is State Representative from House District 53 and is a candidate for the 4th U.S. Congressional District of Colorado.