Tired of High Gas Prices?

Sen. Sanders Leads Effort to Clamp Down on Oil Speculators

Sen. Sanders Leads Effort to Clamp Down on Oil Speculators

Sen. Bernie Sanders + 69 other members of Congress say federal regulators should curb speculation in crude oil markets which has artificially pushed up gasoline prices to nearly $4 a gallon. The lawmakers – 23 senators and 47 members of the House – said Monday in a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that the regulators must stop Wall Street futures traders from dominating the oil market.  The commission has flouted a provision in the 2010 Wall Street reform law that required regulators to put tough new trading limits in place by Jan. 17, 2011. “We are disappointed that, more than a year later, the commission has not fulfilled this important regulatory duty,” the letter said.

“It is one of your primary duties – indeed, perhaps your most important – to ensure that the prices Americans pay for gasoline and heating oil are fair, and that the markets … operate free from fraud, abuse, and manipulation,” the lawmakers added.

They stressed that gasoline pump prices are up despite high supplies and low demand. According to the Energy Information Administration, the supply of oil and gasoline is greater today than it was three years ago, when the national average price for a gallon of gasoline was just $1.90. Today, the national average is more than $3.70 a gallon at a time when the demand for oil in the U.S. is at its lowest level since April of 1997.

There is a growing consensus that speculators are to blame. Exxon Mobil, the Saudi Arabian government, the American Trucking Association, Delta Airlines, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis all say excessive oil speculation significantly increases oil and gasoline prices. Citing a recent report from the investment bank Goldman Sachs, a Feb. 27, 2012, article in Forbes said excessive oil speculation adds $.56 to the price of  a gallon of gas.

“As the cost for American people to fill their gas tanks continues to skyrocket, the CFTC continues to drag its feet on imposing strict speculation limits to eliminate, prevent, or diminish excessive oil speculation,” the members of Congress told the commissioners.

“We urge you to take immediate action to impose strong and meaningful position limits, and to utilize all authorities available to you to make sure that the price of oil and gasoline reflects the fundamentals of supply and demand.”

To read the letter, click here.

Watch: ABC News details Bernie’s efforts to rein in oil speculators » 

ABC News Going After BOA

Bank of America, the largest bank in the U.S., will begin charging customers $5 each month to use their debit card to make purchases. This is an outrageous fee that will pad their profits by yet another estimated $2B.  What’s worse is that Bank of America’s decision to charge customers for debit card use will likely spread to other banks. Wells Fargo and Chase bank have already announced plans to test a $3 monthly fee to their customers.

Not everyone will pay the fee (at least not at first). If you have $20,000 in combined balances at BofA or have a mortgage with the bank,  they’ll waive the $5 monthly fee. That means this change will hit low income customers the worst – including people like me, a recent college graduate working two part-time jobs

When the new debit card fee was announced, Sen. Dick Durbin said, “Bank of America customers, vote with your feet, get the heck out of that bank.”

A right-wing blogger wrote, “I actually agree with Durbin to a point.” One person shared, “After 30 years of banking with Bank of America, today I walked into a local branch and asked to speak to the branch manager and closed every account.”  One TV host cut up her Bank of America card on the air.  ABC News heard that 135,000 Change.org members signed Molly Katchpole’s petition against Bank of America’s new $5 monthly fee to use a debit card. So the network tracked down CEO Brian Moynihan and forced him to respond to the petition. (Thanks, ABC News!)

The CEO was flustered and couldn’t give a coherent explanation — an embarrassing moment on national TV for the big bank (and the second night in a row that Molly’s petition was a featured story on the newscast).

Bank of America is feeling the pressure from Change.org members. As more people speak out, Bank of America will be forced to cancel its new fee — and other banks will be too scared to create their own new fees.

Add your name to Molly’s petition demanding Bank of America cancel its new $5 debit card fee.  (There were 143, 781 signers as I prepared this post.)

While you’re signing, check out the amazing video from ABC News. It’s inspiring to see one person’s petition can make a bank CEO squirm on TV!  Watch it here

If you’re a BOA customer and you no longer meet their minimums, you might want to Move Your Money!  The Move-Your-Money-Project has a widget to help you find a bank or credit union that better meets your needs.  Don’t pay BOA to be able use your own money!

Bank of America is know for intentionally putting up obstacles to customers being able to leave their bank.  Congressman Brad Miller — from Bank of America’s home state of North Carolina — is going on offense against Bank of America with legislation that would make it much easier for customers to switch banks.  In many states, walking into a bank branch isn’t even enough! Miller’s bill would change that — allowing people to close accounts by phone or Internet, and have things like direct deposit transfer automatically.

Across America, a simmering rage is coming to a boil against Wall Street greed.  The Occupy Wall Street movement has channeled this anger. Today, we’re focusing it into a deep corporate accountability campaign against one of Wall Street’s worst actors. Rep. Miller’s bill is yet another step in efforts to right the wrongs of the financial sector.