Sometimes it seems the middle class doesn't have any friends at all in Washington. Then Sen. Bernie Sanders does something to remind us we're not completely alone.
Sanders is the Vermont senator who convinced the Smithsonian to sell products made in America after he was appalled to find Chinese-made figurines of our Founding Fathers in one of their gift shops. Sanders also famously said on the Senate floor that America is turning into a banana republic. Here's a snippet:
Many of the nation's billionaires are on the warpath. They want more, more, more. Their greed has no end and apparently there is very little concern for our country or the people of this country if it gets in the way of the accumulation of more and more wealth and more and more power.Now Sanders wants to bring down the price of gasoline, which is forced up by speculators like the Koch brothers. He's sponsoring a bill to limit excessive speculation. In a letter to his Senate colleagues asking them to co-sponsor the bill, he writes,
Today, the national average for a gallon of gasoline is $3.75 a gallon, even though the supply is higher than two years ago and demand is lower than two years ago when prices averaged about $2.44.
Energy experts from Exxon Mobil, Delta Airlines, and Goldman Sachs have recently said that excessive speculation is responsible for between 20 to 40 percent of the price of a barrel of crude oil....
We have a responsibility to do everything we can to lower gas prices so that they reflect the fundamentals of supply and demand and bring needed relief to the American people.Sanders' bill would limit oil speculation, set 12 percent margin requirements and classify banks and hedge funds as speculators. Wall Street's lobbyists will try to kill it, no doubt, but it's nice to know someone cares.
The middle class has a few friends in the House of Representatives as well. Last year, Congress passed a financial reform bill (the Teamsters supported it) that required commodities regulators to rein in oil speculation. House Republicans are now trying to delay that from happening. Some Democrats, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, sent a letter to Republicans asking them to let the commodities regulators do their job.
At least we have a small circle of friends inside the beltway...