Gas Prices

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: March 7, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, last week I came to the Senate floor to speak out on an issue that is on the minds of a lot of Americans these days: the rising cost of gas at the pump and how the administration's policies are actually making matters worse.

The President may try to take credit for production gains that are entirely the work of others, but more to the point is the fact that production is up on private lands and down on Federal lands. The property the President and the Interior Secretary actually manage is the property upon which production is down.

In fact, when it comes to the rising cost of gas at the pump, it is my view that the administration's policies are actually designed to a purpose: to bring about higher gas prices. That is a view which should not be the least bit controversial given the fact that the President's own Energy Secretary has suggested on a couple of occasions now that his goal certainly is not to drive gas prices down.

For the President's part, he often says that Americans should judge him not only by his words but on his deeds. So when it comes to gas prices, I have pointed out that the President continues to limit offshore areas to energy production and is granting fewer leases on public land for oil drilling, has encouraged countries such as Brazil to move forward with their own offshore drilling projects, continues to impose burdensome regulations on the domestic energy sector that will further drive up the cost of gasoline for the consumer, has repeatedly proposed raising taxes on the energy sector, which we all know would only drive gas prices even higher, and, finally, has flatly rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline.

All of these help drive up the cost of gas and increase our dependence on foreign oil. So the President simply cannot claim to have a comprehensive approach to energy because he doesn't--he simply doesn't--and anytime he says he does, the American people should remember one word: Keystone. Keystone.

Another thing they might want to do is play a clip of the press conference the President held just yesterday. Asked about whether he actually wants gas prices to go up, the President's facetious attempt to deflect the question only served to confirm the premise. But it was the President's admission that rising gas prices hurt the economy that really betrayed the administration's attempt to have it both ways on this issue, because if higher gas prices hurt the economy, then why in the world is the administration calling for higher taxes on energy manufacturers? We know these taxes would drive up the price at the pump and send jobs overseas. The Congressional Research Service said that. If the President wants to drive prices down, he should stop calling for these increases in taxes.

Look, if the President wants Americans to think he is serious about lower gas prices, he has to do more than simply say--and this is what he said yesterday--``No President would want higher gas prices in an election year.'' ``No President would want higher gas prices in an election year.'' What about other years? Would they want them in other years? It is only in election years that it is a problem? He has to get serious about changing his policies, and he might want to consider an Energy Secretary who is more committed to helping the American people than in helping the administration's buddies in the solar panel business--and that brings me to a larger point.

The President likes to talk a lot about fairness. We have heard a lot about fairness, but when it comes to rising gas prices, the American people don't think it is particularly fair that at a time when they are struggling to fill the tank, their own tax dollars are being used to subsidize failing solar companies of the President's choosing, not to mention the bonuses executives at these companies keep getting. I think most Americans are tired of reading about all the goodies this administration's allies are getting on their dime even as the President goes around lecturing everybody about fairness.

I will tell you what is not fair. What is not fair is that it costs about $40 more to fill a 20-gallon tank with gasoline than it did when this President took office. That is not fair. Yet this administration continues to pursue policies that would make it even worse.

Earlier this year the White House launched a campaign in support of the payroll tax holiday, asking Americans what $40 a month would mean to them. Yet, now, when it comes to gas prices, they are doubling down on policies that are taking away that $40 a month given by the payroll tax holiday to fill the gas tank. Once again, they are trying to have it both ways, and, frankly, the American people have had it.