Gas rip-off: Tens of thousands tell Congress to get tough with price-gouging!

Congress begins hearings today on H.R. 1252, a bill that would make gas price-gouging a federal crime, punishable by 10 years in the slammer. Nancy Pelosi said she'll move the bill to a vote this week if she gets the two-thirds majority she needs to fast track it through.

Price-gouging -- and its flip-side, manipulating prices downwards for electoral gains -- is the epitome of low-hanging fruit. High gas prices hurt, and they hurt ultra-nationalists and white evangelicals and security moms as much as anyone else.

Public Citizen estimates that Big Oil has taken in a quarter of a trillion in profits under the Bushies. Two-thirds of adults in a recent poll said gas prices had caused them "financial hardship."

Earlier this month, gas prices reached an all-time record high, beating out inflation-adjusted prices from 1981. When it comes to the energy sector, you have to be deeply brainwashed to believe the "hidden hand" of the market is at play.

The lowest prices at the gasoline pump for the entirety of 2006 hit during the week of the mid-term elections. They had dropped steadily for three months before Election Day -- average gas prices dropped by fifty cents, or 17 percent, between the end of August and the end of September -- they started rising again the week after votes were cast and they've been rising ever since.


gas
Graph by Gandhi at Howard Death Watch, adapted from OPEC data.


What happened? A lot.

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