Government powerless vs. high gas prices, Fed saysby The Associated Press on Apr. 28, 2006, under Nation/World
WASHINGTON – Congress considered billions of dollars in new taxes on oil companies yesterday, looking for ways to punish the cash-rich industry and soothe growing anger over high gasoline prices.
Senate Republicans also proposed a $100 fuel-cost rebate for millions of taxpayers, and Democrats talked of suspending the 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax for two months to ease Americans’ pain at the pump.
But even as lawmakers jockeyed for political advantage on the volatile issue, there was widespread agreement among economists and energy experts that the government has few, if any, weapons to quickly drive down gasoline prices that have rushed past $3 a gallon across much of the country.
“Unfortunately, there’s nothing, really, that can be done that’s going to affect energy prices or gasoline prices in the very short run,” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a congressional hearing.