PARKERSBURG - A West Virginia senator is supporting a crackdown on oil speculation causing higher prices.
"The losers in this game are struggling Americans who can't afford to pay higher and higher gas prices just to get to work or the grocery store," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
Rockefeller with 12 other senators asked Gary Gensler, chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to use the new Wall Street reform law controlling oil speculation.
The lawmakers want the commission to require speculators for larger sums of money to be put down to prevent excessive speculation which can lead to market fluctuation and higher gasoline prices. When speculators bet where oil prices will be at a set time in the future, they are driving up the price of oil today, Rockefeller said.
Oil trades by speculators have jumped 35 percent since the latest round of civil unrest began late January in North Africa and then the Middle East while in that same period gasoline prices rose by almost 40 percent, he said.
"Gas prices are being pushed up by speculators out to make a quick profit and it's time for the CFTC to step in. Too many people on Wall Street are taking advantage of the political turmoil overseas - betting big dollars on oil markets with very little money down," Rockefeller said.
In other congressional news, Rockefeller, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said the committee will closely watch the acquisition by AT&T of T-Mobile USA. West Virginians are looking for lower rates, better coverage, fewer dropped calls and access to high-speed wireless Internet," he said.
"High-speed Internet and wireless service are now essential for our economy, our educational opportunities and our health care system, especially in rural areas like West Virginia," Rockefeller said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he will vote against raising the debt ceiling unless the vote is linked to a budget plan that begins to fix the country's financial mess. Manchin, whose terms ends next year, spoke at the University of Charleston in his "Our Values, Our Priorities" Week tour.
"We cannot make budgets based on the next election, they must be for the next generation," Manchin said. "That is why I will challenge Republicans and Democrats to stand up and confront the fiscal problems we face."
Some in Washington believe the nation can ignore the fiscal peril, he said.
"I will not tell you that we can have everything we want and that there will be no cuts or sacrifice," he said. "That would be a lie. I will not stand here and tell you that figuring out our priorities is easy. It is not. We must get our fiscal house in order. We must be honest about what we value and what we need to spend your tax dollars on, not just what sounds good. We must be willing to make the difficult decisions."