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June 15, 2011

Wall Street Speculators

[Page: H4081]  GPO's PDF 

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio) for 5 minutes.

Mr. DeFAZIO. Today, every American who fills up their gas tank is going to pay an extra 70 cents per gallon as a tribute to speculators on Wall Street. That's right. Seventy cents a gallon is due to hedge fund speculation, derivatives and commodity speculation on Wall Street.

It didn't used to be this way. Before Enron, we prohibited this sort of speculation on Wall Street. There was a special law passed for Enron. ``Ken Boy.'' Remember that? George Bush's favorite guy. Enron, bankrupt. Ken ``Boy'' Lay, who knows where he is now. But the law still lives on.

It was changed in Dodd-Frank to give new opportunities for the Commodities Future Trading Commission to begin to regulate speculation on Wall Street. But the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail against the regulation of speculation on Wall Street. Today, we'll consider a bill that would deprive the Commodities Future Trading Commission, the watchdogs, of new computers. Republicans say, We can't afford $60 million for computers at the Commodities Future Trading Commission to track a $400 trillion market; to track speculators that spent $25 billion on supercomputers last year so they could drive up the price of gasoline and manipulate markets without detection. No, we can't afford that. They've got your back, speculators. The Republicans are with you all the way.

Every American who buys an airplane ticket today, who can still afford it--some--to take their family on vacation, you'll will see a little surtax on fuel. That's another tribute to the speculators on Wall Street who have unnecessarily driven up the price of oil and gas. There is at this point a surplus of oil and gas in the world--more than we've seen for years. Production is up. Demand is down. Stockpiles are up. And the price is up. Guess what? The profits at the oil companies are up phenomenally and the profits on Wall Street are obscene.

Do the Republicans want to do anything about that? No. They would like to distract you. They don't want you to look at who's profiting from your pain and from destroying our economy--their generous friends on Wall Street. They are oh-so generous at election time to the Republican side of the aisle. The Republicans' friends in Big Oil, who are oh-so generous to the Republicans at election time. It's not them. Price is driven by supply and demand. If we drill more, drill here, drill now, that will solve the problem. It won't solve the problem because the speculators are controlling the markets. If we could double U.S. oil supply tomorrow, they'd still be charging us 70 cents or more a gallon through unbridled speculation.

We have an opportunity to rein that in. If we reject the Republicans' proposal today to take away computers and staff from the regulators, to prevent the reform from going into place to finally begin to close the Enron loophole created by Republicans for Republicans and for Wall Street, we could almost immediately drive down the price of gasoline 70 a gallon. Nothing they're proposing will do that. What we're proposing will benefit Americans family today, the economy, put people back to work. And yes, unfortunately, it will rein in some of the obscene profits at ExxonMobil and some of the obscene profits at Goldman Sachs and that other speculators on Wall Street are making today. They might have to go out and make honest loans and earn an honest living instead of gambling.

So it's a pretty clear choice. Who are you with? Are you with the speculators or are you with the American people?

(House of Representatives - June 14, 2011)

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