Democrats held their second House Oversight hearing Tuesday in their campaign to tarnish American energy producers as 21st century variants of the big tobacco giants from 1994. Only this time, the demonized addiction is one to oil, not cigarettes, as if there were a fair parallel.
Democrat Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who chairs the Oversight Committee, and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who leads the Subcommittee on Environment, have been explicit about their desire to criminalize today’s oil giants as primary culprits for catastrophic climate change like cigarettes are to cancer. Financial records show both lawmakers have raked in thousands from the industry they now self-righteously condemn.
“Twenty-seven years ago, seven tobacco executives appeared in this room before Congress. Rather than admitting the truth about their product, the executives lied,” Maloney said in her October opening statement at the committee’s first hearing of the crusade.
Since then, high energy prices have continued to antagonize voters already fatigued by surging inflation to levels not seen in nearly 40 years. The economic turbulence under the Biden administration is likely to last through midterms, with devastating implications for Democrat hopes to maintain congressional majorities in a cycle already hostile to the party in the White House. Many of the nation’s economic woes are direct consequences of the administration’s own agenda with massive spending and vehement animosity towards domestic energy production.
Reps. Khanna and Maloney have no doubt taken note of the political ramifications presented by high power prices eclipsing seven-year highs just weeks ago. According to an analysis from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in December, average energy prices rose more than 33 percent from a year prior.
“Let me briefly address the concerns that have been raised about gas prices,” Maloney said Tuesday after Oversight Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky., went after Democrats on the issue in his own opening. “Rising gas prices are a global issue caused by the behavior of Russia and other factors. Here at home, President Biden has taken aggressive steps to address this issue, including releasing millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.”
The knee-jerk reaction to screech “Russia” in response to any criticism illustrates the desperation of Democrats to evade responsibility for soaring prices pushed upwards by their own animosity, hampering production. Russia did not suspend new oil and gas leases on federal land last year, introduce a cascade of fees and regulation on American producers, place political pressure on Wall Street to cut off investment to the capital-intensive industry, or ban drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
When Biden tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserve maintained for emergencies in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the release (done for the president’s fading poll numbers as opposed to a genuine emergency) only pumped 50 million barrels into the market. The U.S., however, uses more than 18 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Information Administration, making what Maloney called Biden’s “aggressive” release less than three days’ worth.
Khanna repeated Maloney’s talking points in his own opening statement to kick off the Tuesday hearing, refusing to acknowledge how the Democrats’ energy agenda implemented under President Biden will keep prices on the rise.
“President Biden is calling on OPEC to boost production, he is calling on all of the companies, all of the oil companies, to temporarily increase production,” Khanna said, placing blame for rising prices on foreign actors. “I agree with President Biden, we need a strong supply of oil and gas in the short term to lower prices at the pump and the price of heat in their homes.”
Biden made the plea for domestic producers to ramp up output after months of White House hostility heightened the cost of the very production it needs to survive the political blowback. Five days after Biden began to demand the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) expedite increases in output, the Interior Department appealed a federal ruling that overturned the administration’s ban on domestic oil and gas leasing.
The futile effort to dispel association with high energy prices at the onset of their hearing Tuesday showcases where the Democrats know they’re most vulnerable come November.