Wall Street to blame for soaring gas prices?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, the president blaming a good part of the run-up in gas prices on Wall Street as well.

To California Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra, who agrees.

Congressman, I think the president’s point was that while Iran could be contributing, others could be contributing, traders or those who trade in the stuff are gunning it and exaggerating it. You agree with that?

REP. XAVIER BECERRA, D-CALIF.: Neil, there’s no doubt someone’s manipulating the market because unlike in the 1970s, where you had these long gas lines for folks waiting to get gasoline, that’s not the case here.

But we continue to see the gas prices go up. In Los Angeles, at least, a year ago, the price of gas was about $3.80 or so, $3.90 a gallon. Last month, it was less than that, and it was $3.80 or so. Today, it’s at $4.50. And so all of a sudden, the price has skyrocketed.

And supply is about the same and the demand is about the same. Somebody’s manipulating the market, and I would say it’s OPEC and I would say it’s the Wall Street traders.

CAVUTO: Well, maybe it is you. Maybe it’s your colleagues in Washington not being able to agree on spending cuts and the like that has weakened our dollar.

As you know, sir, the oil is priced in dollars, gas is priced in dollars. When the dollar is cheap, it costs more dollars, right?

BECERRA: Yes, but, Neil, last year, as I said, the price of gas in Los Angeles was at $3.82. And today it’s a lot more.


CAVUTO: And the dollar’s a lot weaker.


CAVUTO: I’m not saying that -- there’s...


CAVUTO: ... a lot of catalysts at play here.

But why do I always hear Washington pointing fingers the other way when, at the very least, you are contributing factors, your inability -- and it goes for Republicans as well, sir, -- to get spending under control, to get debt under control tanks our dollar and tanks confidence in our economy.

And that means more expensive oil, gas, anything priced in dollars. And maybe -- I know you there’s a penchant to say Oliver Stone is at play here, but maybe it’s not.


BECERRA: Neil, let me agree with you for a second. Let me agree with you.

Let me tell you that I agree that if Washington could get its act together, if we could have a Congress that would finally get to work to start creating jobs, we’d be doing much better.

One of the first things I would do, at least I would do -- I don’t about the rest of my colleagues -- but I would certainly tell the oil companies that have made $137 billion in profits last year that maybe they should give up the $4 billion a year they get in tax subsidies.


CAVUTO: Fine, let’s say you give it away tomorrow.

By the way, you didn’t agree with me at the outset of your remarks. So, would you argue by trying to say greedy manipulators are trying to gun the market one way or the other, it’s masking the real problem which just might be Washington’s inability to handle our finances, growing lack of confidence on the part of investors, and that is what is hurting the markets, and that an improving environment that I think you could maybe take a bow for, for the president, is picking up this demand, which has picked up even as the dollar has fallen?

BECERRA: Neil, that’s a big leap, because we’ve seen the price of gas jump so markedly in the last few weeks. If what you were saying...


CAVUTO: Well, then what about Iran? Then what about Iran? All I’m saying is, before we start pointing fingers a la Oliver Stone at forces that could be just fictitious, why don’t we look at forces that are very real?

BECERRA: It’s not fictitious. Neil, today, two-thirds of all the trades done for the purchase of a barrel of oil are done by Wall Street traders.

CAVUTO: Wait, wait, wait.


CAVUTO: When they go down -- wait. Listen to what you just said.


CAVUTO: When they go down, is someone manipulating them down?


CAVUTO: Wait, wait, wait. You just said the forces are manipulating the markets up. When they go down, are the same forces at play?

BECERRA: Say that again?

CAVUTO: When prices go down, as they did today, what greedy SOBs are doing that?

BECERRA: Well, you won’t have as much manipulation of the price.

What happens is you have got traders who do nothing about using the oil. They just trade in it because it’s right now -- you can escalate the price.

If it were the airline association, all the airline companies that were buying it, they wouldn’t be trying to jack up the price of oil, because that costs them money. But today two-thirds of all the trades that are done for oil aren’t done by airlines and truckers and all those who use it...


CAVUTO: They make money either way when it goes up or down. They short it to make money going down. They hike it when it goes up. They make money either way. I’m sure you know that.

BECERRA: Neil, the facts are the facts. The prices have gone up dramatically. And there’s no shortage of oil.

CAVUTO: Congressman, all I’m telling you -- I wish we had more time.

I’m saying if you spent more time looking in the mirror than casting villains that may not be there, we might make some progress here. That’s all I’m saying.

BECERRA: But this isn’t an issue of casting villains. Let’s get to the heart of the problem.


CAVUTO: You just did. You just did. You just did. But, Congressman, I want to steal you back, because I think this deserves a serious debate, not a finger-pointing debate. But thank you very, very much.

BECERRA: I’m not pointing fingers. I’m just pointing out the facts.

CAVUTO: Yes, you did. You just did.

But, Congressman, thank you.

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