At the debate Wednesday night, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were asked what they would do, as president to mitigate the high cost of energy, specifically gas.
“We are going to investigate these gas prices,” Clinton said. “The federal government has certain tools that this administration will not use, in the Federal Trade Commission and other ways, through the Justice Department, because I believe there is market manipulation going on, particularly among energy traders.”
Clinton also said she would “quit putting oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and I would release some to help drive the price down globally,” she would embrace a gas tax moratorium, and sign into law “a windfall profits tax on these outrageous profits of the oil companies, and put that money back into the highway trust fund, so that we don’t lose out on repair and construction and rebuilding.”
Obama said he also supported investigating any price gouging as well as a windfall profits tax.
Both also embraced a new energy policy, and Obama promoted “spending $150 billion over 10 years in an Apollo Project, a Manhattan Project to create the alternative energy strategies that will work not only for this generation but for the next.”
Both got their asses collectively fact checked on energy policy and other parts of their Philadelphia debate as well by the experts:
- Clinton said “people died” in 1970s bombings by a radical group of which an Obama acquaintance was a member. In fact, the deaths were of three members of the Weather Underground itself, who died when their own bombs accidentally exploded.
- Obama said, “I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins.” Actually, he did. He said last year, “I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest” because it had become “a substitute for … true patriotism” during the run-up to the Iraq war.
- Clinton claimed that applying Social Security taxes to wages above the current cap “would impose additional taxes on … educators … police officers, firefighters and the like.” Actually, not many of them would be affected. The cap is $102,000 a year.
- Obama denied his handwriting appeared on an old questionnaire that said he supported a ban on possessing a handgun, and he said he has never taken that position. Actually, his writing does appear on one of two versions of the questionnaire.
- Clinton said she believes “market manipulation” is partly to blame for rising fuel prices. She offered no evidence of that. Past investigations of alleged price gouging have concluded that it’s mainly market forces that push prices up.
Specifically on the gas price gouging issue the Federal Trade Commission has repeatedly looked into allegations of market manipulation and fixing of gasoline prices. So far, it has found nothing to prosecute, not even in the post-Hurricane Katrina gas price spikes. FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on May 23, 2006, about the post-Katrina price increases. According to the FTC’s press release, the investigation found 15 instances of “price gouging,” but the FTC added: “Other factors such as regional or local market trends … appeared to explain these firms’ prices in nearly all cases.”