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The 30-Something Working Group

Location: Washington, DC

THE 30-SOMETHING WORKING GROUP -- (House of Representatives - May 03, 2006)


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out before, I have only been here 14 months, 15 months now. And a few things have happened that have just absolutely floored me. One of the things that has occurred was the two votes we had last year on energy legislation, energy legislation that the Bush energy department predicted would raise gas prices. And it did.

But if you recall, we had an opportunity as Members to have a briefing from the cabinet officers, by the cabinet officers of the President in this chamber just last year.

And if you recall, we had the Secretary of Energy stand in front of us. And when asked a question about why were they not doing anything about gas prices, and what were they going to do to bring down the cost of oil, he said, ``Well, we really cannot do anything''. I mean, that was his point blank answer.

Now, when we are talking about prices at the pump, I do not understand why our Republican colleagues are not pumping up the volume on prices. I mean it is just incomprehensible that last year we would have a bill on this floor that not only gave money to the oil companies, to the oil companies gave them money, forgave taxes. And we have talked about these things before.

The United States Government owns the land and the rights underneath where the oil companies are given permission to drill. We give them permission. And in exchange for that permission, they are supposed to pay us taxes. They are supposed to pay the United States Government for those drilling rights. Yet in the legislation last year, we forgave those taxes. We basically gave them the oil that they drilled for for free, and now we are letting them sell it to us and our constituents for ungodly amounts of money so that they can make ungodly amounts of money.

On top of that, it is not even like it was a breeze to pass it. You know, you had Republicans here who were not allowed to vote their own conscience because from what I have noted, they all check their consciences at the door there and leave them out before they come in this room, so that there arms can be pressed behind their backs.

And the board up here, it shows how we are voting, it is like a Christmas tree. It goes from red to green, green to red. Really I am not sure where their moral conviction is, because it certainly is not in this room when they are voting. They held one of those votes open on the Energy Bill that we did, I think this was last summer, for 40 minutes, if you recall, so that they could ensure that they gave that gift to the oil companies.

It was unbelievable. And we were already in the middle of a summer of high gas prices. And we have here another chart. And I think we have another one as well that shows the evolution of gas prices.

But, we are now paying 100 percent more for gas than when President Bush first took office. 100 percent more. The rubber stamp Republicans, our rubber stamp Republicans right there, you cannot call it any other thing other than what it is. Literally last summer they let themselves be led off a cliff, led by the nose to do whatever it is that the leadership decided they were going to do for the oil industry.


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I want to take this back down for a second because I think we talk about the deficit and the debt a lot, and some of the things we talk about on the floor are a little hard to wrap your mind around in terms of the things the people deal with every day. So, when we boil it down to what people deal with themselves every day, which is what a tank of gas costs, what a gallon of gas costs, this is the evolution of what has happened under the Bush administration and their energy policy.

In 2002, the summer gas price of a gallon of gas was average of $1.39. Then in 2003, it went to $1.57. Then in 2004, it went to $19.0. In 2005, it went to $2.37, and you know what, in April it was $29.1. It is now over $3. I just paid $3.05 at home, and it cost me $56 to fill up my minivan.

So, when we are talking about what goes on up here and how disconcerting and disappointing it is that we have no leadership on the other side and no interest or ability for them, who clearly are in charge of this country and who could make this change, at the snap of their fingers if they wanted to, they can stand and say they cannot do anything to affect oil prices, but the President's been in office 6 years. He had the ability to start right from the get-go and begin investing in alternative energy and trying to actually move the ball down the field when it comes to changing oil prices, but let us look at the timeline of what truly has resulted from the Bush and Republican energy plan.

You have this White House energy plan that was submitted on May 16, 2001, just about 5 years ago now, and you can see as you move up that timeline that, with each phase of the plan that has been implemented, this is the increase in gas prices. There is a significant correlation between the implementation of their energy plan and the increase in the cost of a gallon of gas.

May 17, 2002, the Energy Secretary announces an effort to implement their energy plan under existing law. Gas prices go higher.

Go a little further down the road, and it is December 10, 2004, 75 percent of their energy plan that was hatched in that secret meeting, which they refuse to reveal who was part of it, 75 percent of the energy plan is implemented, and now we are at almost $2 a gallon, actually a little bit more than $2 a gallon.

Then you go over to March 9 of last year, 95 percent of their energy plan is implemented, and we are approaching $3 a gallon.

August 8, 2005, President Bush signs the energy legislation into law, and that is when gas literally in some places hits over $3 a gallon. Now, it has fluctuated back and forth. We are at over $3 a gallon again.

The chart does not lie. It is very clear that their plan raised gas prices. You have an administration infected with former closely affiliated representatives of the oil industry, all the way up to the two people who run this country. I mean, it does not take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to figure it out. I mean, come on.

Mr. RYAN of Ohio. Talk about a picture speaking a thousand words. Why do we have high gas prices? Why do we have the problems?

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. You want to hear the statistic I heard today.

As far as boiling it down what this means for people, $56 to fill up my minivan. We have not raised the minimum wage since 1997 in this country, and at the current minimum wage, a minimum wage worker has to work 38 minutes before they can even afford 1 gallon of gas, 38 minutes. I mean, that is just over the top outrageous. I mean, it really is.


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. The only thing I want to add in closing is that it is just such a sorry excuse to say we cannot do anything about gas prices. I mean, their argument is you cannot snap your fingers and make a difference overnight. If they cared at all, if the President meant what he said when he said we should end America's addiction to oil, like he said in his State of the Union address, then he would have embarked on a plan that would actually do that from the get-go, but that statement was so disingenuous and so far from what their goals are, as evidenced by their action that, you know, over the next 6 months, with election after election, whether it is a special election in California or the elections we had last night in Ohio, people will let folks know here what they think of the policies that are being established.


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