Democrats Want to Control the Price of Gas (And Everything Else)

“Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.” Once we say it’s a good idea for our elected representatives to control one thing, they’ll want to control everything. You know this is true. Now we learn that six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a “Reasonable Profits Board” to control gas profits. When has Congress ever been reasonable?

Kucinich has been a government employee all his life, except for a stint as a radio host. He’s never owned a business or a run a business. He knows next to nothing about economics except that when you get power you can take money from people who have it and give it to people who don’t.

On his 1982 income tax return, Kucinich reported an income of $38. He knew that if he was going to have a stake in the American dream, he would need more political power. So he reentered politics and began a long odyssey to ruin the economic lives of the productive and prosperous.

Kucinich wants to “set up a board that would apply a ‘windfall profit tax’ as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas.” The proposed “bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.”

The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.

Kucinich will try to sell the bill with the argument that “the oil-and-gas companies, as the seller, would have to pay this tax.” Not only is this wrong; it’s stupid.

Here are the names of the five other Democrats who are co-sponsoring the bill: Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (Mich.), Bob Filner (Calif.), Marcia Fudge (Ohio), Jim Langevin (R.I.), and Lynn Woolsey (Calif.).

Price controls have been tried before.

In a move widely applauded by the public and a fair number of (but by no means all) economists, President Nixon imposed wage and price controls [in 1971]. The 90 day freeze was unprecedented in peacetime, but such drastic measures were thought necessary. . . . The 90 day freeze turned into nearly 1,000 days of measures known as Phases One, Two, Three, and Four. The initial attempt to dampen inflation by calming inflationary expectations was a monumental failure.

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While there were skeptics in August, 1971, there were a great many who thought “temporary” wage and price controls could cure inflation. By 1974, this notion was thoroughly discredited. . . .

The profits the oil companies make are paid out as dividends to millions of share holders. In addition, the oil company profits are used for future research and development and exploration as oil gets harder to find.

It’s time the people of Ohio get rid of Dennis Kucinich before he wants to control the price of the air we breathe.