Democrats to Blame for High Gas Prices?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," April 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: To the pump right now, and gas prices hitting another record today, now averaging $3.56 a gallon.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling on President Bush to stop filling the nation's petroleum reserve. But whatever happened to this promise she made two years ago today?

At the time, Pelosi said the Democrats had — and I quote — "a commonsense plan to bring down skyrocketing prices." Since then, prices have shot up 22 percent. The GOP is calling it the Pelosi premium. What gives?

With us now, former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

Congressman, always good to see you.

Watch Neil's interview with Dennis Kucinich

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: It is good to see you.

CAVUTO: A lot of big promises made two years ago, and a lot of promises not met. What happened?

KUCINICH: Well, you have to keep in mind that the Bush administration, under its administration, this is how we have seen gas prices rise. And it's not a partisan statement.

I think that Democrats can do more. And that is why I propose what I call the gas price hike spike act. And that would put a windfall profits tax on all profits above a reasonable level.


CAVUTO: What is a reasonable level, Congressman?

KUCINICH: Well, you would set up a board, and people who are familiar with the industry would have to determine what is a reasonable profit. People are entitled to a profit, but today the consumers are getting gouged.

I have heard stories of people hocking jewelry to be able to pay the price at a pump. That's wrong. People are foregoing purchases of food. It's changing the entire American economy. We have got to do something about it. And a windfall profits tax right now is the way to impose some discipline in the marketplace.

CAVUTO: All right. Well, what would you do, Congressman? Apple has been making a lot of money, the big computer and iTouch, iPhone people. Would you put a limit on their profit?

KUCINICH: Well, this is a little bit different.

Let me just cite some figures to you. From 2001 to 2006, Exxon's profits have tripled. Their profits were $15 billion in 2001. Now they are over $40 billion. Shell, $11 billion in 2001. Now their profits are $27 billion.


KUCINICH: I'm not against people making money, but there is something wrong with how much money they are making.

CAVUTO: All right, I hear you, but I don't remember you stating this kind of stuff when all the oil guys were losing money, and when we were at $10 oil, and they were merging, and a lot of the wildcats were going out on strike.

So, let me ask you. If they enter a sustained period where they start losing money again, which is not out of the question, are you going to give them a rebate?

KUCINICH: Well, my plans is make sure that we bring the price of gasoline by having a 100 percent windfall profits tax, and put that money - - follow this now.

You put the money into the — into tax credits for the purchase of fuel-efficient American-made cars, help stimulate the economy, and for mass transit which would find a way to reduce carbon emissions overall.

So, I think that, you know, there are ways to propose incentives, tax incentives, that are environmentally sustainable and that protect the economy.


CAVUTO: I hear you, Congressman. Congressman, you are a good man, but I'm just telling you this. When you are telling a company we are going to try to put a cap on your profits because we think you are earning too much, what is it to compel that company to search for more oil, to explore for more oil, to do something with that money, when Dennis Kucinich is going to come around and take that money?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, they have plenty of money available for exploration. And I know they are trying to reach out and create more fields.

But the fact of the matter is, this is hurting the consumers and it's hurting our economy, Neil. And somebody has to stand up for the consumers, that everyday guy or woman who is putting that into the pump and finding to fill up a tank costs $50, $60, $70 or more. That money is coming out of their families. There is gouging going on.


CAVUTO: But, Congressman, are you blaming the oil companies for that, or are you blaming wildcatters for that, or are you blaming speculators for that?


KUCINICH: I'm saying the government — the government ought to step in on this one.


CAVUTO: All right. But be careful coming here, Congressman, because it's a slippery slope, right? I am sure there are many pension funds in your district and there are many teachers and related and hospital funds in your state that have benefited from investing in oil companies. I am not an apologist for oil companies.

I am stating this, that once you go after one industry's profits, Congressman, you start laying open the possibility of going after everybody's.


KUCINICH: No, this is about oil companies, Neil. I want to be very clear about that. And it's about addressing what is happening right now.

In California, the price has gone to over $4 a gallon. We need to do something to introduce some discipline in the marketplace. They're still going to make enough profits to be able to do their exploration. I am not talking about the government intervening for price controls over every industry. I am talking about a windfall profits tax right now for one industry.

We have dozens of members of Congress who have already signed on to my bill. And I expect dozens of more will, because they want to see an end to these rapidly increasing cost of prices, which are not explained by any distortions in the marketplace and are not explained to anything, except by the oil companies gaming the marketplace right now.

CAVUTO: Well, you could also look at global demand is picking up, right?

KUCINICH: Well, you know what? There is an increase in global demand.

But, however, what we are seeing is an egregious increase in prices right here in the United States, and our consumers are paying a price, and I feel that something has to be done to cap the profits.

CAVUTO: Well, you know what, Congressman? I want to get you back. We also have this little issue called the falling dollar to talk about. But I always love our economic discussions. We're going to have more in the future.

KUCINICH: I appreciate it.

CAVUTO: I wish you well until then. Congressman, thank you very much.

KUCINICH: Thank you very much.

CAVUTO: Dennis Kucinich.


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