Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act
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Mr. PASCRELL . Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to rise in support of H.R. 6346, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act. And I want to commend the gentleman from Michigan not only for this legislation but other legislation he's put forward debunking the theory that this is simply a supply-and-demand problem. It is not. It is not.
The New York Mercantile Exchange laid it out very clearly. The speculators have increased their share of oil futures, oil future contracts to 71 percent this year from 37 percent in 2000.
At the same time, the contracts held by traditional oil users have fallen to less than 30 percent from more than 60 percent. So while this piece of legislation talks about gouging at the pump, there is gouging going on Wall Street; and if you don't want to recognize it, that's your problem. The American people want answers.
In these tough economic times, price gouging is a very real problem for Americans struggling to get to work. How about that for openers. As prices climb, so does the potential for consumers to be gouged at the pump. Now, it's $4.07 a gallon; when the President took office in January of 2001, $1.36. That's a 270 percent increase. The food becomes more expensive, millions of Americans lose their jobs.
It is shameful that unscrupulous vendors try to make a quick buck by artificially inflating the price. Just last week, officials in my home State of New Jersey issued 350 citations for price gouging-related offenses after surveying 1,000 gas stations. 350 citations. Where is the urgency? If you don't understand the urgency, then we ought to go back to 101.
H.R. 6346 will ensure that those who engage in this practice are not only investigated and found guilty, thoroughly punished, just like what we should do to those on Wall Street who gouge those prices who have speculated and speculated and got us to believe at a time when consumption and supply is just about the same as last year. That's ridiculous.
This bill directs penalties from price gougers to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help families with their heating and their air-conditioning bills. Twenty-eight States, Mr. Speaker, have anti-price gouging laws on the books. And it's time for the Federal Government to do exactly the same thing.
I urge my colleagues to support Mr. Stupak in his efforts and to support the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act.
And I don't sit until I say, Mr. Stupak, the American people say thank you to you.