Our Opinion: An exercise in federal futility

If you’re searching for an exercise in federal futility, look no further than the new group assembled to investigate gas prices.

President Obama announced last week the Justice Department is assembling the Financial Fraud Enforcement Working Group. Its members will include department officials, federal regulators and the National Association of Attorneys General.

The rise in gas prices has inflicted much pain at the pump. When Obama made his announcement Thursday, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.84, nearly a dollar higher than the price a year ago. Prices in Central Missouri are marginally lower.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised to be vigilant “in monitoring the oil and gas markets for any wrongdoing …”

A Justice Department memo accompanying his statement, however, revealed the initiative largely is a feel-good effort.

He conceded no evidence suggests collusion or unlawful price manipulation.

The memo specified: “Based upon our work to date, it is evident that there are regional differences in gasoline prices, as well as differences in the statutory and other legal tools at the government’s disposal. It is also clear that there are lawful reasons for increases in gas prices, given supply and demand.”

A person doesn’t need to read between the lines to understand the Financial Fraud Enforcement Working Group is superfluous.

It exists solely to persuade American consumers that their government is doing something.

During the three-day trip when he made the announcement, Obama also admitted, “change turned out to be a lot tougher than expected.”

Perhaps it would be easier if he spent less time mustering federal resources to inflate government into all things for all people.

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