From TALKING POINTS MEMO:
Democrats are pushing hard on ending tax breaks for oil companies, linking the issue to the deficit and high gas prices, which have boosted profits in the industry to new heights.
In a floor speech on Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the Senate would target $4 billion in benefits for oil companies with the intention of using the savings to help address the nation’s growing debt.
“If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, this is an easy place to start,” Reid said. “It’s a no-brainer. Let’s use the savings from these taxpayer giveaways to drive down the deficit, not drive up oil company profits.”
Democrats had already made attacks on tax breaks for oil companies a central part of their political strategy going into budget talks given the unpopularity of the industry amid high gas prices, but they have stepped up their rhetoric even further since Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) suggested in an interview last month that he might be open to ending the subsidies as part of a deficit reduction plan.
Bolstering Reid’s morning speech, a group of Senate Democrats including Bob Menendez, (D-NJ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jon Tester (D-MT). held a press conference on Tuesday to debut the “Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act,” which would end subsidies to the five largest oil companies. All four face competitive re-election contests next year.
“It’s bad enough that Ohioans have to pay more than $4.00 a gallon at the gas pump. They shouldn’t need to subsidize the oil industry through the tax code as well,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said in a statement.
Democrats will get another crack at big oil on Thursday, when Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) holds a Finance Committee hearing on ending industry incentives.
But hold on, kids. From Roll Call:
Boehner indicated during an ABC News interview last month that a review of oil tax subsidies is “certainly something we should be looking at.” But asked Tuesday whether the Speaker would support the Senate Democrats’ plan, [Bronzo the Clown’s spokesperson Michael] Steel said: “He supports looking at any option to lower gas prices. Unfortunately, the Senate’s tax hike would raise gas prices.”