In “Democrats take aim at Big Oil in lead up to midterms,” Zack Budryk reports at The Hill that “Democrats are looking to pin the blame on oil companies for high gas prices, potentially signaling an election-year goal of refocusing scrutiny on an issue that has dogged President Biden’s approval ratings….Two different House committee chairs have called for oil CEOs to testify on disparities between falling oil prices and consumer gas prices. While three companies rebuffed House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), several others are set to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday….“While American families struggle to shoulder the burden of rising gas prices from Putin’s war on Ukraine, fossil fuel companies are not doing enough to relieve pain at the pump, instead lining their pockets with one hand while sitting on the other,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and investigations subcommittee Chairwoman Dianna DeGette (D-Colo.) said in a statement Tuesday….A bicameral bill sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) would tax major oil companies on windfall profits and provide rebates to Americans from the proceeds….“What we’ve seen as a result of the Russian invasion is a lot of speculation and cartel behavior that has dramatically raised oil and gas prices,” Whitehouse said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “Note that the costs did not change, there has not been a similar spike in cost to match the spike in price. … This is a price increase of choice on the part of the big oil companies.”
In other oil and midterm politics news, Kevin Liptak reports “Biden considering releasing 1 million barrels of oil per day from strategic reserves” at CNN Politics. As Liptak writes, “President Joe Biden is weighing releasing a record amount of oil from US reserves as high gas prices persist. A plan being considered involves releasing around 1 million barrels per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the coming months, a person familiar with the deliberations says….The announcement could come as soon as Thursday, when Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks from the White House on gas prices….Biden earlier in the month announced a coordinated release of oil from the reserves in conjunction with other nations. He also released around 60 million barrels in November, which he said at the time was the largest release from the reserve in US history.” However, “Tapping the reserve — the stockpile of 600 million barrels of crude oil stored in underground salt caverns in Louisiana and Texas — generally has only a limited effect on gas prices because of how much oil can be released at a time, but would act as a political sign that Biden is continuing to confront the problem.” Liptak also reports that the governors of CA, GA and ME are pushing economic relief packages for gas consumers.
“Could Trump blow the midterms for the GOP?” Ryan Lizza, Rachel Bade and Eugene Daniels mull over the possibilities at Politico Playbook. Among their comments: “One of the few ways Republicans could potentially blow this electoral equivalent of a layup is if former President DONALD TRUMP suddenly returns to center court….Trump is not toxic for his party everywhere. Republicans did better than expected in House races in 2020 because of the high MAGA turnout Trump generated. But he’s deadly for the GOP in the decisive suburbs at the heart of 2022 politics. Recall how Virginia’s GLENN YOUNGKIN treated Trump like Voldemort, concerned that even uttering his name would repel potential supporters in NoVa….There is a debate among Democrats about whether there is any strategic value in making Trump the center of the election. The moderate Dems barely clinging to their seats insist they have no interest in talking about him. The make-2022-about-Trump faction insists that the only way to recreate the Dem surges of 2018 and 2020 is to recreate the Trump-saturated political environment of those years when right-leaning suburbanites flocked to the Dems….But that debate may be moot….This week’s convergence of 2020 election subversion news and wild Trump comments is a harbinger of things to come. The Jan. 6 committee’s major reports, when released this year, will force every candidate to discuss Trump and 2020. And as the midterms approach, Trump, who has big bets placed on dozens of candidates up and down ballots across America, will be a central player in campaigns everywhere, whether either party likes it or not.”
Some cogent observations from “The Media Is Not Ready for the Midterms” by Molly Jong-Fast at The Atlantic: “The Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, who has written extensively on this topic, has recommended the “truth sandwich”—the tactic by which a reporter properly quotes a lie by surrounding it with truth. Her advice for the media as the midterms approach? “The mainstream press (the reality-based press, to distinguish them from the right-wing press) should focus on what’s good for citizens and not the horse race aspect of the midterms, and they should call out lies clearly.” She added that she’d also like to see “more focus on voting rights and gerrymandering.”….When I reached out to Jon Allsop, the author of Columbia Journalism Review’s newsletter, his response was focused on the press not two-siding midterms stories: “Mainstream media should cover the midterms like they should cover any political story at the moment—by avoiding treating the two parties as equal and opposite ‘sides’ when they aren’t, especially when it comes to the preservation of U.S. democracy. I think that many reporters and editors have woken up to the Republican assault on democracy in recent years—and others didn’t need waking up in the first place—but good, urgent coverage of the threat still tends to get siloed away from the horse-race punditry, which still often seems to start from the premise that the track is even. We need to see more joined-up thinking here and that will require focus, which will be a particular challenge amid a news cycle dominated by war and with so many other important stories to cover.”….Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at NYU, told me that the media should “redraw the baseline for election-year conflict. Instead of just assuming it’s Democrats vs. Republicans in a familiar battle for control of government, start with a more urgent contest: those from both parties who still abide by the norms of American democracy vs. those who have demonstrated they do not—the Trump loyalists in the GOP, the Stop the Steal movement, the crazed conspiracy mongers, the Christian nationalists. Redirect the bulk of your reporting resources to this newer conflict, while keeping a careful eye on the ‘state of the race’ between the two parties.”….The idea that media should have a prodemocracy bias is a good one. It would help us focus on politicians straying from democratic norms, and highlight antidemocratic plays like disenfranchising voters.”