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On behalf of hundreds of thousands of FreedomWorks members nationwide, I urge you to vote “No” on H.R. 6346: the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act. The bill, a shallow attempt to rein in gas prices, is eerily reminiscent of the very policies that led to shortages and gas lines in the 1970s and early 1980s. That was a time when government tried to tamper with a market not at the source, where Congress could encourage more exploration and utilize the vast resources available, but at the pump where retailers have very little control over the end price.
Gasoline prices vary across the spectrum for dozens of reasons beyond the control of the merchant – state and local taxes, proximity to supply, supply disruption, competition, environmental requirement, and operating costs – not to mention the price of crude oil, refinery costs, and federal taxes that are all out of the hands of anyone trying to make a living by providing much needed gasoline to Americans.
This bill ignores simple economics and instead binds an essential industry with undefined terms like “unconscionably excessive,” “taking unfair advantage,” and “unreasonably” opening the floodgate for trial lawyers to abuse these ambiguous terms.
Currently, far from taking any advantage from current high prices, gas stations are loosing money and more of these small businesses are closing every day. This bill essentially accuses retailers of inflating prices even as business falls and it is harder and harder to stay afloat. This is, in the first place, contrary to basic market principles and insulting to those entrepreneurs. Any profit a gas station sees from selling gas is a razor thin slice of the actual cost of gasoline. Second, this bill little more than an empty shell of big words that makes retailers the scapegoat for energy costs.
Instead of doing the work required to truly increase our energy supplies and bring down costs – expanding refinery capacity, streamlining environmental hurdles, and exploring for more energy – Congress would pin current energy woes on one of the groups suffering most.
We will count your vote on H.R. 6346 as a KEY VOTE when calculating the FreedomWorks Economic Scorecard for 2008. The FreedomWorks Economic Scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the Jefferson Award, which recognizes members of Congress with voting records that support economic freedom.