With the same gusto they mustered when legislating timelines for troop withdrawals, the House of Representatives today signed off on legislation that would severely punish gas-gougers. Not surprisingly, the White House has already threatened a veto claiming the law is a form of price controls. While we personally disagree with the White House (about everything) and think it is cute that Congress is trying to do something before $4 per gallon gas causes voter revolts, our reading of the bill is it was doomed to begin with. You want vague language? Read this:
The bill directs the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to go after oil companies, traders or retail operators if they take "unfair advantage" or charge "unconscionably excessive" prices for gasoline and other fuels.
Anyone care to define "unconscionably excessive?" To our eyes, the dozens and dozens of arcane tax loopholes oil companies receive (calculating the taxable value of their inventories based on old stocks, not market value, etc.) would qualify as "unconscionably excessive." We also think limiting refinery capacity just in time for summer is unconscionably and excessively
dickish greedy. In other news, Gordon Gekko is out of prison and Wall Street 2 is nigh.
House approves stiff gas-gouging penalties [via msnbc.com]