Fact Check: Senator Hassan Has a Record of Pushing to Lower Costs for Granite Staters and Fighting Inflation

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Mitch McConnell’s dark money group — which is funded by corporate special interests like Big Oil and Big Pharma and other anonymous donors — today launched a new TV ad falsely attacking Senator Maggie Hassan’s record on lowering costs and fighting wasteful spending.

The truth is that Senator Hassan is a leader in the fight to lower costs for Granite Staters and has a long record of cracking down on wasteful government spending. Senator Hassan has been fearless in taking on the very corporate special interests that are funding this new attack ad — including by pushing to allow Medicare to directly negotiate prescription drug prices and calling out Big Oil for keeping gas prices sky high while posting record profits. And she recently won the Fiscal Hero Award for her work to slash wasteful government spending.

“Mitch McConnell’s Big Oil and Big Pharma-funded dark money group is dumping money into New Hampshire to attack Senator Hassan for fearlessly taking on corporate special interests to lower costs for Granite Staters,” said Maggie for NH spokesperson Kevin Donohoe. “Unlike her opponents, who would vote with corporate special interests to keep prices high, Senator Hassan will always fight to bring down costs for the people of New Hampshire.” 

Get the facts below:

THE FACTS: Public Documents Have Revealed that One Nation, Mitch McConnell’s Secretive Dark Money Group, Has Received Donations from Big Oil and Big Pharma 

One Nation is Mitch McConnell’s dark money group and is able to hide its corporate special interest donors. Yet an in-depth review of documents shows that Big Oil has donated more than a million dollars — and likely much more — to the group through The American Petroleum Institute. And public disclosure documents have shown that Big Pharma — through the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a Big Pharma lobby group, has also donated to One Nation.

The American Petroleum Institute Tax Returns – 2019 

The American Petroleum Institute Tax Returns – 2018 

Biotechnology Innovation Organization Tax Returns – 2019

THE FACTS: Senator Hassan is Leading Efforts to Crack Down on Wasteful Government Spending

Senator Hassan, who was recently recognized as a “Fiscal Hero” in the U.S. Senate, is focused on cracking down on wasteful government spending and protecting taxpayer dollars. Senator Hassan is one of only two Democrats who refused to request “earmarks” in this year’s annual budget. And throughout her time in Congress, Senator Hassan has helped save taxpayers more than $200 billion, including by leading bipartisan efforts to close a Medicaid loophole that cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

  • Senator Hassan Supports Empowering Medicare To Negotiate Lower Drug Prices, Which Could Reduce the Federal Deficit By $297 Billion Over A Decade. [Kaiser Family Foundation, 11/23/21]

  • The Good Accounting Obligation in Government Act, Cosponsored By Senator Hassan, Became Law and Required the Government to Act on $87 Billion in Potential Savings [Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Committee on the Judiciary, US Senate, 10/17/16]

  • The Congressional Budget Office Estimated That The Hassan-Introduced Fair AMP Act Would Save The Federal Government $3.1 Billion Over The Next Decade. [Advisory Board, 10/28/19]

THE FACTS: Leading Economists Say The American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Do Not Add Inflation Pressures in the U.S. 

The ad blames government spending for fueling inflation, even though leading economists have said that the emergency government spending did not fuel inflation, and instead helped to reopen schools, keep small businesses afloat, and provide critical support to first responders, including law enforcement.

  • San Francisco Fed Analysis: The American Rescue Plan Did Not Significantly Increase Inflation Through 2022. According to a San Francisco Fed paper, “In this Economic Letter, we assess the risk of sustained inflationary overheating using the ratio of job vacancies to unemployment. This measure of slack accounts for both the demand for and supply of labor and thus has been shown to predict future inflation more accurately than the unemployment rate alone. Our estimates show that the ARP could raise the vacancy-to-unemployment ratio close to its historical peak in 1968. However, this large increase translates into only a temporary increase in core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) inflation of about 0.3 percentage point per year through 2022. This minor impact is attributable to the small effect of slack on inflation and the strong historical stability of longer-run inflation expectations.” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Regis Barnichon et al., 10/18/21]

  • Moody’s: Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Will Not Add to Inflation. According to economists and analysts in leading rating agencies, President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and social spending legislation will not add to inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy […] William Foster, vice president and senior credit officer (Sovereign Risk) at Moody’s Investors Service said that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill “should not have any real material impact on inflation.” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics said that the legislation does “not add to inflation pressures, as the policies help to lift long-term economic growth via stronger productivity and labor force growth, and thus take the edge off of inflation.” [Reuters, 11/17/21]

THE FACTS: Senator Hassan is Standing Up to Big Oil for Posting Record Profits at Expense of Granite Staters

  • Hassan Was The Lead Sponsor Of The Oversight To Lower Oil Prices Act, Which Would Call On The Federal Trade Commission To Investigate Whether Oil And Gas Prices Were Illegally Increasing Prices. “Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., is leading three other Democratic senators calling upon the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether oil and gas companies have illegally been cranking up prices at the pump. Hassan’s new bill would require the FTC to report back in six months on a probe into whether there has been price gouging. […] Democratic Senators Mark Kelly of Arizona, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut co-sponsored what they called the Oversight to Lower Oil Prices Act.” [Union Leader, 4/11/22]

THE FACTS: Big Oil Is Focusing on Stock Buybacks Rather Than Increasing Production — Leading to a Rise in Gas Prices

  • Rising Oil Prices Have “More To Do With Wall Street Than Pennsylvania Avenue” As Investors Have Pressured Fossil Fuel Companies To Pour Cash Into Dividends And Stock Buybacks That Benefit Investors Rather Than Into Increasing Production. “A popular trick at gas stations this fall is to slap a sticker featuring President Joe Biden pointing to the price per gallon and saying, “I did that.”  But the real answer has more to do with Wall Street than Pennsylvania Avenue. The root cause of today’s high gas prices isn’t politics: It’s financial pressure on oil companies from a decade of cash-flow losses that have made them change financial tactics. Investment in new wells has dropped more than 60%, causing U.S. crude oil production to plummet by more than 3 million barrels a day, or nearly 25%, just as the Covid virus hit, and then fail to recover with the economy. For an oil-drilling sector that lost 90% of its stock value from 2012 through early last year, it hasn’t been the toughest call in the world. Oil company chief executives and finance chiefs have faced years of rising demand from markets for more disciplined capital spending after a spree of development centered in West Texas and North Dakota produced an estimated $10.9 billion in negative free cash flow in 2014 alone — roughly speaking, operating profit minus capital spending. That persistent cash drain made blue-chip oil exploration stocks drop 90% from their peak and spurred demands that companies eschew fast growth in favor of steadier profits and stock-boosting finance moves like higher dividends, more share buybacks and reduced debt.” [CNBC, 12/23/21]

  • Economic Researcher Josh Bivens: “Rise In Profits” For Oil Companies Was “Definitely A Big Part Of Why Prices Jumped In 2021. “Josh Bivens is the director of research for the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, and joined All Things Considered to walk through some of the issues. […] In a recent speech that addressed record gas prices, President Joe Biden said that Exxon had, ‘Made more money than God this year.’ Bivens said profit margins for most of the major oil companies showed this wasn’t such a far-fetched idea. ‘Especially for the first year of the inflationary shock, basically from very early 2021 to the end of 2021, if you track profit margins, those profit margins got much fatter,’ he said. ‘And they actually reached historically high levels by the end of 2021. So the rise of profits definitely is a big part of why prices jumped in 2021.’” [NPR, 6/29/22]

  • The Pandemic, Not U.S. Energy Policy, Has Caused Gas Prices To Rise – Oil Price Spikes Are Global And Not Isolated To The United States, And Other Commodities Like Metals Have Seen Similar Price Spikes Since COVID.  “There are so many factors behind the global increase in oil and gas prices, but “almost none of them have to do with US policy,” he said.   Williams-Derry pointed to the price spikes for an array of other commodities that have nothing to do with energy policy—copper, rubber, meat, lumber, iron ore, used cars, and semiconductors, to name just a few. Moreover, the entire world is suffering from these price swings, not just the United States.  The common thread in every sector experiencing rising prices is, unsurprisingly, the pandemic. “Any analysis of today’s commodity price volatility that ignores COVID is just plain stupid, and should be written off immediately,” Williams-Derry said.” [Sierra Club, 12/6/21]

  • Lease Suspensions Have Not Caused Prices To Rise – 9,000 Federal Oil And Gas Leases Are Currently Available But Not Being Used. “Ramamurti said there are 9,000 unused leases that the U.S. government has provided for oil and gas production and, “people are free to use them if they’d like to.” Ramamurti said there are 9,000 unused leases that the U.S. government has provided for oil and gas production and, “people are free to use them if they’d like to.”” [Bloomberg, 3/1/22]


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