Obama: End oil, gas tax sub­si­dies

Touts drilling, bio­fu­els, wind, so­lar, nu­clear power for fu­ture en­ergy

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY SU­SAN CRAB­TREE

One day af­ter the Su­per Tues­day pri­maries, Pres­i­dent Obama trav­eled to the swing state of North Carolina and dou­bled-down on his call for cut­ting tax sub­si­dies for oil and gas com­pa­nies in an on­go­ing at­tempt to cast Repub­li­cans as out of touch with mid­dle-class work­ers.

Speak­ing to work­ers at a Daim­ler truck plant in Mount Holly, the pres­i­dent re­it­er­ated his de­fense of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “all- of- the- above” strat­egy for de­vel­op­ing more do­mes­tic en­ergy sources and curb­ing U.S. de­pen­dence on for­eign oil through ex­panded drilling and the de­vel­op­ment of bio­fu­els, as well as wind, so­lar and nu­clear power.

Mr. Obama also reaf­firmed his com­mit­ment to elim­i­nat­ing tax sub­si­dies for oil and gas com­pa­nies and com­plained that Repub­li­cans are stand­ing in the way of the pro­posal.

“Right now, $4 bil­lion of your tax dol­lars goes straight to the oil in­dus­try ev­ery year — $4 bil­lion in sub­si­dies that other com­pa­nies don’t get,” he said. “Now, keep in mind, these are some of the same com­pa­nies that are mak­ing record prof­its ev­ery time you fill up your gas tank.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple have sub­si­dized the oil in­dus­try long enough — they don’t need the sub­si­dies,” he said. “It’s time to end that tax­payer give­away to an in­dus­try that’s never been more prof­itable and in­vest in clean en­ergy that’s never been more promis­ing.”

Though Mr. Obama’s pro­posal is a po­lit­i­cal long shot with Repub­li­cans con­trol­ling the House, the pres­i­dent has re­peat­edly pushed the plan in an at­tempt to ap­peal to mid­dle-class vot­ers at a time when gas prices are on the rise.

Last year, a re­port by the non­par­ti­san Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice (CRS) con­cluded that elim­i­nat­ing oil and gas sub­si­dies would push prices higher and lead to greater de­pen­dence on for­eign oil, but noted that the im­pact would be on a “small scale.”

Repub­li­cans ar­gue that Mr. Obama could do far more to sup­port do­mes­tic drilling and they point to the CRS re­port as ev­i­dence that Mr. Obama’s poli­cies are driv­ing up the cost of gaso­line.

In an ef­fort to keep the po­lit­i­cal heat on the pres­i­dent, the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee held a hear­ing Wed­nes­day on the ris­ing gas prices with Jack Ger­ard, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Amer­i­can Petroleum In­sti­tute and Charles Drevna, pres­i­dent of Carbm Truck­ing. En­ergy Sec­re­tary Steven Chu will face a sep­a­rate hear­ing Thurs­day.

With Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial con­tenders and the re­sults Tues­day’s pri­maries dom­i­nat­ing the news, vot­ers across the coun­try are pay­ing more at­ten­tion to the cam­paign this week, and Mr. Obama has tried to keep him­self in the head­lines and push back against Re­pub­li­can at­tempts to tie him to gas prices, which have roughly dou­bled since he took of­fice in early 2009 and could slow the bur­geon­ing eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

On Tues­day, the pres­i­dent held his first news con­fer­ence of the year fol­lowed by his trip to North Carolina, a state he car­ried in 2008 and that polls show could be up for grabs in Novem­ber. Ac­cord­ing to a Fe­bru­ary sur­vey by Public Pol­icy Polling, a Demo­cratic- lean­ing firm in Raleigh, Mr. Obama leads the en­tire Re­pub­li­can field in the state, though only by slimmest of mar­gins.

The pres­i­dent is up 47 per­cent to 46 per­cent against for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney; 48 per­cent to 46 per­cent on for­mer Sen. Rick San­to­rum of Penn­syl­va­nia; 50 per­cent to 45 per­cent on for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich; and 47 to 41 per­cent against Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

A new Elon Univer­sity/char­lotte Ob­server poll re­leased Wed­nes­day showed Mr. Obama’s poll num­bers inch­ing up in the state, but more North Carolini­ans still dis­ap­prove of how he’s han­dling the econ­omy and his job over­all. The poll, con­ducted Feb. 27 to March 1, showed 51 per­cent of those sur­veyed dis­ap­prov­ing of Mr. Obama’s han­dling of the econ­omy, with 43 per­cent say­ing they ap­proved.

The same sur­vey showed just 45 per­cent of North Carolina vot­ers ap­prove of Mr. Obama’s over­all job per­for­mance, while 48 per­cent dis­ap­prove.

Mr. Obama hopes to build on that ra­zor-thin ad­van­tage by as­sail­ing tax breaks for oil and gas com­pa­nies in a state whose res­i­dents spent a larger per­cent of their af­ter-tax in­comes on gaso­line, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by the Wells Fargo eco­nom­ics group. The higher prices hit con­sumers at the pump but also trans­late into higher prices for food and other goods else be­cause of in­creased trans­porta­tion costs.

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