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Douglas Andrews / November 30, 2021

Democrats Demagogue on Oil and Inflation

Joe Manchin has asked Joe Biden to do the impossible — reverse himself on Keystone.

At the risk of sounding exactly like our Managing Editor Nate Jackson … last Tuesday, when Joe Manchin urged Joe Biden to reopen the same Keystone XL Pipeline he’d closed down with the stroke of a pen during his very first day in office, he reminded us of Eric “Otter” Stratton’s timeless utterance in “National Lampoon’s Animal House”: I think this situation absolutely requires that a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.

Here’s how Manchin put it:

I continue to call on President Biden to responsibly increase energy production here at home and to reverse course to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built, which would have provided our country with up to 900,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada, one of our closest allies.

To be clear, this is about American energy independence and the fact that hard-working Americans should not depend on foreign actors, like OPEC+, for our energy security and instead focus on the real challenges facing our country’s future.

Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat whose coal-rich state went for Donald Trump by 39 points, knows full well the needs and concerns of his constituents, and he knows that homegrown energy is a popular idea back home. But he also knows the futility and stupidity of his gesture. He knows that calling on Biden — the guy whose administration believes that climate change is a greater threat to our nation than the communist Chinese — to restore the pipeline that’s been the bête noire of “green” energy elitists from John Kerry to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is utterly hopeless.

Unless and until Manchin can convince some of his fellow Senate Democrats to join his call, this all about optics. Democrats, simply put, hate fossil fuels — even though “green” energy alternatives such as wind and solar aren’t even remotely dense enough to replace them.

No, to reopen Keystone would be to acknowledge that the high price of energy is an onerous tax on all Americans, and especially on those who can least afford to pay it. It would also be an acknowledgement that not everyone can simply shell out enough money for a new electric car like his out-of-touch energy secretary, Pete Buttigieg, recently suggested. Perhaps Pete isn’t aware that the average cost of a new electric vehicle is around $55,000 — which is more than twice the $25,000 average price of a new compact car.

But even if Biden could admit that his energy policies have been ruinous, he could never admit that his White House predecessor was spot-on in his pursuit of energy independence. That’d be a bridge too far.

At least Manchin gets it, though. Which is more than we can say for many others in his party. Take Massachusetts Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren, for example. Around the same time her West Virginia colleague was imploring the president to restart the pipeline, Warren was demagoguing American business.

“We know exactly what the oil companies pay attention to, what is their number one priority — profits,” she lectured. “This isn’t about inflation. This is about price gouging.”

It’s not just the robber barons oil companies, either. “Americans are paying record high prices for their Thanksgiving turkey,” she declared last Tuesday, “while big poultry companies are paying billions in dividends, giving CEOs raises and earning huge profits. These companies are abusing their market power. I’m asking DOJ to investigate.”

A day later, she was at it again: “Wondering why your Thanksgiving groceries cost more this year? It’s because greedy corporations are charging Americans extra just to keep their stock prices high. This is outrageous.”

So, according to Elizabeth Warren, it’s got nothing to do with inflation; nothing to do with increases in labor, energy, and transportation costs; and nothing to do with endlessly printing money and paying people not to work. Nope, it’s all about those “greedy corporations.”

No, Senator Warren, what’s outrageous is your obsession with attacking the free market and your ignorance of basic economics. Joe Biden and his administration are to blame for our economic predicament, and no amount of clever misdirection can change it.

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