Blue State Blues: California Democrats Try to Avoid Blame for High Gas Prices

Gavin Newsom (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week that he would ask state Attorney General Xavier Becerra — the same guy who is always suing the Trump administration — to investigate whether oil and gas companies are to blame for high fuel prices in the state.

As if Newsom and the Democratic Party had nothing to do with the problem. Prices are usually the outcome of many factors, but in this case California Democrats share directly in the blame.

In 2017, for example, Democrats used their supermajority in both houses of the state legislature to force through a 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax, ostensibly to pay for transportation infrastructure that they had failed to account for in the actual state budget. The public reacted angrily, and Republicans won a rare recall election against first-term Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) in June 2018, who was one of the Democrats lending key support to the gas tax hike.

Democrats did all they could to rig that election. As Breitbart News noted in 2018 (original links): “Democrats began changing the rules for recall elections — by allowing unlimited contributions from fellow elected officials, by letting voters rescind their signatures on recall petitions, and by moving the date of the recall election to the June 5 primary.” All to no avail: voters punished Newman’s gas tax vote by recalling him by a nearly 60-to-40 margin.

The California GOP then gathered enough signatures to place a gas tax repeal on the November 2018 ballot. The party’s gubernatorial candidate, John Cox, made repealing the gas tax the centerpiece of his campaign against then-Lt. Gov. Newsom. The issue was one of the few on which the majority of California voters agreed with the GOP. The gas tax is a regressive one, falling disproportionately on working-class residents who must commute for work.

But then, in one of the most egregious acts of political fraud ever committed, the state’s Democrats — in this case, led by Becerra himself — gave the referendum, Proposition 6, a misleading title, using “Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding” for “Gas Tax Repeal Initiative.” Moreover, instead of voting “No” on the gas tax hike, California voters would have to vote “Yes” on Prop 6, creating additional confusion for the electorate.

Opponents of the repeal also allegedly used contractors for the California State Transportation Agency (Caltrans) to campaign against Prop 6 during work hours, stopping traffic illegally to do so. And it was not as if California Democrats ever intended to restrict the money for transportation. In May, Oakland announced it would divert $2.9 million from the gas tax to pay for lighting — even as the city paid for attorneys for illegal aliens facing deportation.

California Democrats have made fuel expensive in many other ways. The state is rich in oil and gas potential, but restricts drilling to a few areas, and Democrats are trying to eliminate it in places where it already exists. The state ‘s Low Carbon Fuel Standard raises prices 12 to 14 cents per gallon. And California’s cap-and-trade system, which Gov. Newsom defended against a Trump administration lawsuit this week, is raising local gas prices even more.

So it is laughable that Newsom and California Democrats are now pretending, like O.J. Simpson, to find the real culprit. “It’s sort of like your best friend stealing your wallet, and then helping you look for it when you notice that it’s missing,” said one letter-writer to the Los Angeles Times.

That is an accurate description, except for one detail: California Democrats are not the voters’ “best friends.” On this issue, at least, that title belongs to Donald Trump.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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