When the Democrats were still in the minority, Americans were paying $2.91 a gallon on average for gasoline. At the time, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised “a commonsense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices by cracking down on price gouging, rolling back the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and royalty relief given to big oil and gas companies, and increasing production of alternative fuels.” This is standard boilerplate for liberal politicians when Americans complain about gas prices: blame Big Oil greed for high gas prices and promise that big government investment in alternative fuels will save the day.

Now that Democrats have been in power for 18 months, the average national cost for a gallon of gasoline is over $4 and the only change in Pelosi’s policy has been to add OPEC to her list of people to blame. Nobody seriously believes that any of these policies are capable of reducing gas prices in the short term. OPEC countries are not about to start pumping more oil because Pelosi says so, and even the New York Times openly mocked the House investigations on oil market manipulation.

The other items on the liberal gas-price-lowering agenda–increasing oil company taxes and mandating biofuel use–only increase the price of gas. Raising taxes on the cost of capital for oil production decreases supply and raises prices. In the short term, tax-paying corporations tend to recoup increased tax payments in the form of higher retail prices. The billions of dollars necessary to build the infrastructure to meet the more than doubling of the biofuels mandate also can only raise the price at the pump today. Now liberals in the Senate want to institute a Hugo Chavez-like windfall profits tax, a policy that only raised energy prices in the 1970s under Jimmy Carter.

For close observers of the American left, the fact that liberal politicians pay lip service to lowering gas prices while actually instituting policies that will raise the price of gasoline comes as no surprise. The New York Times has editorialized in favor “higher, not lower, prices” on gasoline as “an important way to spur the needed technological innovation and curb demand.” Influential environmental activist Dave Roberts has been even more honest and explicit:

But Dems keep encouraging the delusion that high fossil energy prices–particularly gas prices–are some sort of weird aberration resulting from the greed of oil executives or Saudi intransigence. They keep encouraging the delusion that with a few policy gimmicks we can bring those prices back down. … As long as Americans think that energy prices might go back down at any moment–that the cheap-energy good times of the ’90s are but a “windfall profits tax” away–they won’t support a policy they’re told will increase those prices. They need to be told the truth.

Roberts is right. Americans need to be told the truth. Liberals in Congress have been fighting to raise the price of gas for years. According to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the daily oil production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would reduce the price of gasoline by 50 cents. Liberals in the White House and Congress have been blocking the development of this oil for more than a decade now. Billions of barrels of oil in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming have also been restricted, not to mention the billions more denied from offshore drilling.

Liberals cannot be allowed to continue to get away with this. When prices rise at the pump, American consumers suffer. And the pain is not felt uniformly. The New York Times reports today that rural Americans suffer the most:

Here in the Mississippi Delta, some farm workers are borrowing money from their bosses so they can fill their tanks and get to work. … With the exception of rural Maine, the Northeast appears least affected by gasoline prices because people there make more money and drive shorter distances, or they take a bus or train to work. But across Mississippi and the rural South, little public transit is available and people have no choice but to drive to work.

This is the energy policy Pelosi and Schumer are forcing on the American people: punishing poor and rural Americans with high gas prices so wealthy San Franciscans and New Yorkers can take Alaskan cruises to see their precious polar bears.

Quick Hits:

  • Californians are quickly discovering that medical marijuana laws “unintentionally” provided legal cover for large-scale recreational marijuana growers.
  • With local demand for tougher immigration enforcement growing, 95 police departments are waiting to join 47 others in a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that lets officers investigate and detain people they suspect to be illegal immigrants.
  • New Orleans is rebuilding its school system under new rules, including a vast network of charter schools where there are no standard hours, teacher seniority, union contracts, or common textbooks.
  • Democrats in Congress are set to kill the groundbreaking federal voucher program that enables nearly 2,000 D.C. children to attend private schools.
  • After losing more than $18 million since 1993, the Senate finally voted to privatize its network of restaurants.