Two senators from opposite sides of the political aisle gathered Monday at the Kennedy Institute in Boston for a debate focused on the economy.
One topic dominated much of the conversation between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham: high gas prices. The two politicians had different views on the high prices that plague people’s wallets, with Graham blaming the prices on Democrats and Sanders blaming big oil companies.
“I think in the middle of what is happening in this world is the war in Ukraine and the undermining of Russian oil. I think what the oil companies are doing is taking advantage of this situation and raising prices to an outrageous level that hurts the American working family,” Sanders said.
Graham called on people to vote for Republican candidates in the upcoming election and pointed to the actions of ruling Democratic politicians as being responsible for the price hike.
“How did we go from energy independence to what we are today? Politics matters. During the 2020 campaign, President Biden and Senator Sanders campaigned against phasing out fossil fuels as we know them in America,” Graham said.
Graham went on to say that it’s not the gas companies that don’t want to produce more oil and gas, and blamed the politicians.
The two lawmakers met in Boston for the first installment of the Senate Project, a series of debates organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The project aims to reintroduce “the culture of seeking common ground and consensus that has been the essence of the Senate since its conception in 1789,” according to Fox News Media.
Sitting in a life-size replica of the US Senate chambers, Sanders offered taxes on oil companies as a solution to high prices.
“I think we have to do something about the outrageously high gas prices. I think the president should bring the big oil companies in and tell them we’re going to have a windfall tax on what they’re doing to stop them from ripping off the American people,” Sanders said.
On the other side, Graham said people should vote Republican so Republicans can get back to more oil company production.
“It is not the oil companies that determine these prices. They want to produce more than they simply can’t. … It’s the policy of this administration — the stated goal of this administration is to destroy fossil fuel production in America and they’re well on their way to doing that,” Graham said. “My friends, if you want to lower gas and oil prices, vote Republican to see if we can find some Democrats who will come back to more production in America so that we can lower gas prices in a way that works. .”
The call, to vote Republican in 2022, was a recurring call from Graham during Monday’s hour-long debate hosted by Bret Baier, Fox’s chief political correspondent.
“I just want to remind you that the Democrats are in charge. After hearing about Bernie, things are tough, but they’re going to get better, aren’t they? And socialism is not the answer to all of these problems,” Graham said. “So I just want to give you a little reminder of where we are. The Democrats have the House, the Senate, and the White House. All of these issues that we’re talking about, they could change or fix if they could. Their agenda doesn’t work. not.
While Graham called for a change in the political affiliation of leaders, Bernie argued for a change in whose interests the government represents.
“What I’m going to tell you is that the working class and the middle class in this country are in big trouble. We are moving towards an oligarchic form of society, where a small number of billionaires not only have extraordinary wealth, but also extraordinary political power,” Bernie said. “Now is the time for the American people to stand up. Make it clear that enough is enough and that we need a government that begins to represent all of our people, not just the wealthy campaign contributors.
The debate aired live on Fox’s streaming service, Fox Nation, on Monday, but will air on Fox News on Saturday at 7 p.m.
During the first half of the debate, which consisted of opening statements and timed responses, the senators also touched on defunding the police (a course of action both said they did not support), health care, immigration and social security.
The two senators pointed fingers at each other, with Graham accusing Sanders of being a socialist, and Sanders calling out Graham for repeating the party line.
“Do yourself a favor and ask yourself this question, am I better today than I was two years ago? And if you are, you were in a world of pain two years ago because most people are no better off today,” Graham said.
In the second half of the debate, it switched to a moderated format, with Baier asking questions of both candidates. They covered the lifting of tariffs on China, former President Donald Trump’s claims about a stolen election, health care, gun reform and their time together on the budget committee, among other topics.
Each new installment of the debate series will feature a new pair of senators. The next installation of the new series is scheduled for July at George Washington University, followed by a debate this fall in Utah at the Hatch Foundation.
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