Thursday 24 March 2022

House Democrats propose gas stimulus to slap bandage on rising prices

 House Democrats have put forward a bold new proposal to address inflating gas prices: Have the government spend more money.

Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), John Larson (D-Ct.), and Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) have put forward the Gas Rebate Act of 2022, which they say will address rising energy prices by providing small stimulus checks to lower-income Americans.

The plan is to offer a rebate of $100 per month and $100 for each dependent for the rest of the year in any month where the national average price of gasoline is more than $4.00 per gallon.

“Americans are feeling the impact at the pump of Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and right now we must work together on commonsense policy solutions to ease the financial burden that my constituents are feeling,” Thompson said in a statement.

“The Putin Price Hike is putting strain on our economy, and I am proud to be working with Reps. Larson and Underwood to introduce this legislation to provide middle-class Americans with monthly payments to ease the financial burden of this global crises," he added. 

The rebate payments are structured to phase out in the same manner as the COVID-19 stimulus payments. A single filer earning less than $75,000 would be eligible for the $100 rebate, which would be phased out to $80,000. Joint filers earning less than $150,000 can claim the $100 rebate, but the program is phased out at $160,000, according to a press release. 

National gas prices reached record highs in March as inflation, increased demand for gasoline, constricted supply, and the war between Russian and Ukraine combined to push prices skyward. The national average price for a gallon of gas was $4.24 on Wednesday, according to the American Automobile Association. Gas is about six cents cheaper this week over last, as analysts predicted it would be after the price of crude oil declined last week. But experts say that as the weather improves in the spring and summer, gas prices could rise again because more Americans will be traveling.

In the meantime, prices are still high in various parts of the country. In Los Angeles, California, for instance, gas surged to an average of $6.00 for a regular gallon.

While Democrats blame Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine for the high prices, oil and gas industry representatives say President Joe Biden's policies are contributing too.

"Which is it? You can’t blame Putin and us at the same time. The bottom line is we are not price makers, we are price takers. We suffer from low prices and then we have higher prices. That is based on the price of oil globally," Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma said on Fox News Wednesday.

She said the industry "would love to produce more [energy] in the United States and help to bring those prices down."

Independent Petroleum Association of America Executive Vice President Dan Naatz added that fossil fuel energy companies are "frustrated" with the Biden administration's "relentless assault" on domestic oil and gas manufacturing.

"Increased regulations, talk of taxes, our members get frustrated when the administration, Jen Psaki just seem to say, now that we are facing an energy crisis, go out and produce like the snap of a finger. It is just not possible and as we face this relentless attack, we will have to do a lot of work. And you want to start a dialogue with the administration to address the challenges," he told Fox News.

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