GOP congresswoman criticizes Biden for investigating rising gas prices

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The Federal Trade Commission recently announced increased scrutiny of possible price manipulation within the gas industry.

Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) on Tuesday agreed with a Fox Business host who said it was "idiotic" for the Biden administration to be investigating possible market manipulation leading to higher gas prices for consumers.

The Texas congresswoman appeared on Fox Business' "Evening Edit," and discussed the economy and energy issues with host Heather MacDonald.

Referring to President Joe Biden, MacDonald said, "Now he wants the [Federal Trade Commission] to go after fuel retailers? I mean, where's the proof of racketeering by the way with gas stations? And he wants the FTC to crack down on them?"

MacDonald added, "This is mindlessly idiotic."

"I could not agree with you more," Van Duyne responded. "You're looking at this administration that's doing exactly the opposite of what common sense would tell you."

She then claimed the Biden administration was "killing the economy" and "crushing working families," tying together the president's "ridiculous policies" and grocery store "trucks that are having to pay more for that gas."

Van Duyne did not elaborate on why investigating the potential price-fixing problem would cause further stress on working class families.

The FTC recently signaled a shift in prior policy toward greater scrutiny of gas industry mergers and possible price-fixing. Retail gas prices have increased from the lows of the pandemic and are now higher per gallon than they were two years ago.

On the same day Van Duyne and MacDonald spoke, a post on the FTC's official blog, authored by the acting director of the agency's Bureau of Competition, Holly Vedova, solicited tips from the public that could be used to investigate possible price fixing.

"Given high prices at the pump these days, the Bureau of Competition is redoubling its commitment to police unfair methods of competition in wholesale and retail gasoline and diesel sales," Vedova wrote.

The post was a follow-up to a letter sent by FTC chair Lina Khan on Aug. 25 to National Economic Council director Brian Deese. In that letter, Khan detailed actions the agency would be undertaking to investigate suspected gas price manipulation.

"The Federal Trade Commission should have no tolerance for illegal business practices that harm families and consumers at the pump," Khan wrote.

She noted that current policy at the FTC has enabled recent consolidation in the gasoline market and "may have enabled increased consolidation at the national level, creating conditions ripe for price coordination and other collusive practices."

Khan said she would be directing FTC staff to investigate strategies that could be used to challenge mergers, with a focus on how national gas chains may be working to artificially increase prices.

The chair also said she would have the agency investigate whether national chains were forcing local franchises to sell gas at higher prices.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.