With pump prices crossing the $3.00 mark and family budgets buckling under the strain, 2008 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton says she has the solution: Have consumers pay even more at the pump by levying a $20 billion tax on the oil companies who "price gouge."
"We need to be able to ensure consumers in New York and across the country that they will not be gouged at the pump," Clinton said on Wednesday.
"To fill the gaps in current law, I joined with colleagues last fall in introducing the 'Energy Emergency Consumer Protection Act,'" she explained. "This would enable the president to declare an energy emergency, triggering federal gouging prohibitions to protect consumers from being the victims of profiteering."
Mrs. Clinton first introduced her anti-profiteering plan last October, telling an environmental group: "I believe that we need to assess the oil companies an alternative energy development fee to be put into [a] new Strategic Energy Fund. We should design the fee so it is taken solely out of unanticipated profits from the sky high oil prices."
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The former first lady predicted that her excess profits tax "could generate as much as $20 billion a year to help retool our economy and deploy new energy strategies."
Clinton said the plan would "ensure that [her tax] is not passed on to consumers," but declined to explain how she intended to prevent oil companies from passing along the extra cost.
Two years ago the top Democrat explained the driving philosophy behind her economic policies, telling a San Francisco fund-raiser that when Democrats finally win back the White House, "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."