Oil tax breaks needed, Congress members say
BY JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
4/27/11 at 5:28 AM
WASHINGTON - Members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation on Tuesday flatly rejected separate suggestions from an unlikely duo - President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner - to kill or at least review tax breaks for oil companies.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Boren said Obama just needs to be quiet.
"Americans are tired of empty rhetoric on both sides and want a real plan,'' Boren said. "If the president doesn't want to stand up and be a leader, then his silence would be appreciated from people who are trying to find solutions.''
Boren described Obama as completely uninformed about the oil and gas industry.
"The industry is not made up of just major companies,'' he said. "It is made up of small independent firms like those in Oklahoma that produce a vast majority of our domestic production.''
For every CEO of a major company, Boren said, there are thousands of blue-collar jobs that are affected by the Obama administration's energy policy.
"It is a policy that is very inadequate and has left so many on the Gulf Coast unemployed.'' Boren said.
Republican Rep. John Sullivan said he has not talked to Boehner about his comments, but the congressman made it clear he does not support raising anyone's taxes.
"Targeting the oil and gas industry with tax increases would not only raise gas prices even higher, but it would place hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma jobs in jeopardy of being eliminated or shipped overseas,'' Sullivan said.
Sullivan pointed out that the oil and gas industry employs more than 300,000 people in Oklahoma and 9.2 million nationwide, who pay almost $100 million per day in taxes to the federal government.
Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe described Obama's move merely as a distraction from what every American knows can help restrain rising prices, and that is to increase energy production.
Inhofe said the administration stands firmly against such a policy and, instead, supports even higher gasoline prices.
Earlier Tuesday, the White House issued a letter from Obama to legislative leaders in which the president urged Congress to take action to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and to use that revenue to invest in clean energy to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
"High oil and gasoline prices are weighing on the minds and pocketbooks of every American family,'' the president stated.
Obama said he was heartened by Boehner's statement Monday indicating the Ohio Republican was open to doing away with the tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry.
"It's certainly something that we ought to be looking at,'' Boehner told ABC News in response to a question on tax subsidies going to big oil companies during a time of record profits. He then cited the federal government's budget problems.
"We need to control spending but we need to have revenues to keep the government moving,'' Boehner said. "They ought to be paying their fair share.''
Big oil companies, he said, do not need the oil depletion allowance, but he added that incentives should remain for small independent oil and gas producers.
A spokesman for Boehner issued a statement later that appeared to back away from the speaker's comments.
Jim Myers 202-484-1424
SMALL FIRM FACTOR
Rep. Dan Boren: "The industry is not made up of just major companies. It is made up of small independent firms like those in Oklahoma that produce a vast majority of our domestic production.''