OK, I realize I am not the most unbiased commenter on this, but c'mon, the recent talk about oil companies is just plain dumb. Even if the Democratic charges were true, then their policy recommendations would be terrible.
CHARGE #1: Oil prices are really high because oil companies are making outrageous profits.
RECOMMENDATION #1: The feds should levy a windfall profits tax on oil companies, and that will bring prices under control, ultimately providing relief at the pump to motorists.
This is crazy. If oil companies can set whatever price they want, in order to achieve a profit objective, then a new tax will just be passed on to consumers. Once you admit oil companies can't simply pass on a tax and make the same profits as before, then you are forced to admit that maybe right now they are not "manipulating" oil prices either.
CHARGE #2: Oil companies already own leases on federal land on millions of acres that are not producing oil or natural gas.
RECOMMENDATION #2: The Republicans should not be allowed to allow oil companies to lease larger tracts of federal land that is currently under moratorium.
This is crazy. Why would oil companies be lobbying to acquire leases on property they didn't plan on developing? And OK suppose they are doing this (perhaps to lock out competitors). Then isn't this the best of all possible worlds for environmentalists?? The oil companies want the ability to send a portion of their profits to the federal government, and we are confident that they won't do any drilling. So why not take their money? The beaches are safe, right? You can't spill oil if you're not producing anything on the newly available federal lands.
BTW for a more complete response to CHARGE #2, see IER's piece and API's. This stuff is ridiculous. Oil companies are hated so much that the weakest of criticism sticks. Now even Republicans and WSJ pieces are saying things like, "A windfall profits tax is not likely to reduce prices much," as opposed to, "WHAT??! In what school of economic thought does raising taxes lead to lower prices?!"