Do President Obama and his Democratic allies think the American people are stupid? Judging from their performance last week on the question of gas prices, the answer is yes, they do.
Obama and the Democrats spent last week trying to position themselves as "doing something" about rising gasoline prices - the only problem is, what they proposed to do was to raise the price of gasoline by raising taxes on the oil companies that produce it. And anyone with a basic understanding of economics knows it.
The legislation, sponsored by Menendez, would prevent the "big five" oil companies — Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips — from claiming several tax deductions that are available to all U.S. manufacturers.
Democrats like to pretend these are "tax subsidies" - as if Uncle Sam is writing checks to Big Oil - but they aren't. These are tax breaks available to every manufacturer. Obama and the Democrats know this, of course, yet they also know that the mainstream media won't correct them when the refer to the tax deductions as "subsidies," thus allowing Obama and the Democrats to mislead the American people.
Not a single Democrat - not Obama, not Harry Reid, not New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, not any of them - could explain how higher taxes on the oil companies would help Americans struggling to pay for gasoline that's now over $4 a gallon across much of the United States.
They couldn't explain it because the legislation wouldn't lower gas prices. It would increase them. Even Democrats know such a tax increase will not lower gas prices
Lowering gas prices was not the point of Menendez's legislation. Deflecting the focus on rising gas prices was the point.
So, when Republicans agreed to allow Menendez's legislation to come to the floor of the Senate for a vote, they were calling the Democrats' bluff - and the result was that even some Democrats voted against the proposal, the second time they have rejected the proposal in the last year.
Obama pushed for the legislation in an effort to portray himself as standing on the side of the American people, and against the "Big Oil Companies. In a Rose Garden speech shortly before the Senate voted down the tax increase, Obama called on lawmakers to back the plan, saying lawmakers had a choice to "stand with big oil companies, or … stand with the American people.”
How, exactly, Congress would be "standing with the American people" by increasing the price of gasoline, he didn't explain.
As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said, “That was their brilliant plan on how to deal with gas prices: raise taxes on energy companies; when gas is already hovering around $4 a gallon, then block consideration of anything else, just to make sure gas prices don’t go anywhere but up."
Last year, when Democrats were pushing this same tax increase, the Congressional Research Service said doing so would make oil and natural gas more expensive for U.S. consumers and also probably increase foreign dependence.
With "strategies" like this one, it's no wonder that just 26 percent of Americans approved of the way that the president was handling gas prices in a poll conducted in early March by ABC News. An overwhelming majority, 65 percent, disapproved.
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