Democratic Candidates on the Price of Gas: I'm Not Making This Up!
By Bryan Caplan
Democratic candidates were asked “What would you do to reduce gas prices?” Their answers, with one exception, should make any economist wince.
Here’s Dodd, who leads with a long-winded complaint about foreign energy dependence and global warming, and ends with:
I’ve introduced a plan here that would require a by the year 2017 50 miles per gallon standard for our automobiles…
And a carbon tax, in my view, so that you make the polluting dependencies, the polluting fuels, more expensive and encourage them through the use of revenues collected, to move aggressively on developing the alternative technologies…
So a carbon tax is going to cut the price of gas? When pressed, Dodd added:
When the price of a barrel of oil gets beyond $40 a barrel, where there’s plenty of profit here, that those dollars ought to be returned to the consumers in a rebate or plowed back into the research that would allow us to develop alternative technologies.
So I guess Dodd’s solution is jawboning?
Next we move to Edwards, whose wants to make gas cheaper with a price-gouging witch-hunt, a cut in the oil subsidy, and stricter enforcement of clean air standards:
[T]here ought to be an investigation of the oil and gas companies by the Justice Department… I think we need states to enforce clean air laws against these refineries.
…But in the short term, can America finally stop spending $3 billion a year of taxpayers’ money subsidizing oil and gas companies that already make billions of dollars?
Then there’s Richardson, who’s positively funny. He recommends a price-gouging witch-hunt even though he doubts it’s happening!
RICHARDSON: Well, I was energy secretary and my state — we call it the Clean Energy state. We have incentives for solar, wind, biomass, biofuels. We require renewable technologies, 20 percent of our electricity.
Here’s my answer: What would help in the short term, give us — the states — the authority to engage in serious price-gouging investigation. That doesn’t happen. But this is not the answer. The answer…
BLITZER: Do you believe they are?
RICHARDSON: No, they’re not.
The answer is this. We need an Apollo program, Apollo, led by a president, asking every American to sacrifice, to conserve, that would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which is 65 percent imported, to 10.
Biden, finally, seconds those who want to cut the price of gas by cutting subsidies, launching a witch-hunt, and raising fuel economy standards.
Out of all the candidates who answered, only one gave an economically literate, honest answer: Gravel. He bluntly explains that he wants to make gas more expensive by imposing a carbon tax:
Of course, that will raise the price of gasoline; let’s be candid about that. There’s nothing I would do as president to lower the price of gasoline right now.
Yes, Gravel wins the Democratic prize for economic literacy and honesty. Is it any wonder that he’s dead last in popularity?