Obama tries to raise energy taxes; McConnell says, “Is this the best we can do?” [Opinion: The Arena]
This has not been a good week for President Obama. The Supreme Court appears poised to rule his signature ObamaCare legislation unconstitutional, the House of Representatives rejected his budget proposal by a vote of 414-0, with not even a single Democrat voting for the thing, and the Senate rejected his lame proposal to increase taxes on domestic oil companies; as consumers are facing $5 per gallon prices at the pumps.
Shortly before the Senate rejected his tax increase proposal, President Obama gave a short presser in the White House Rose Garden, to explain why he was asking the Congress to end $4 billion in tax deductions to oil companies. He argued that Americans are getting hit twice — once at the gas pump, and once more by sending billions of dollars in “tax subsidies” to oil companies.
"I think it's time they got by without more help from taxpayers who are already having a tough enough time paying the bills and filling up their gas tank," the president said. "And I think it's curious that some folks in Congress, who are the first to belittle investments in new sources of energy, are the ones that are fighting the hardest to maintain these giveaways for the oil companies."
The Senate vote was 51-47, short of the 60 votes necessary for cloture. Two Republicans voted to proceed to the legislation — Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. But four Democrats rejected the effort — Sens. Jim Webb of Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Begich of Alaska.
Just before the vote, Kentucky’s senior senator, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, challenged Obama and Democratic leaders. He strode to the podium and addressed the effort by Senate Democrats to raise taxes on American energy manufacturers:
“I just have one question before this morning’s vote, one simple question. Is this really the best we can do? Is this the best we have to offer folks who are staring at $4 a gallon gasoline? A bill that even Democrats admit won’t do anything to lower the price of gas? And a process that blocks any other idea from even coming to the floor for a vote?
“Does anybody think the Senate’s really done its job on this issue? Well, if you don’t — if you think we think we should do more for the American people at a time when they’re paying $4 dollar a gallon for gasoline than raise taxes on energy manufacturers and block a pipeline from Canada, then you should vote against cloture. You should stand with Republicans and insist we do more to lower gas prices in this country.”
Referring to President Obama’s Rose Garden talk, McConnel said, “I see the President made a statement a little while ago in support of this proposed tax hike. My question is: where was the White House when Democrats voted to get off of it? Maybe they were too busy lining up votes against the Keystone pipeline. Maybe the President was too busy telling the Russians about how he’s hoping for more flexibility.”
Of course, no rational person on either side of the aisle is seriously suggesting that raising taxes on American energy manufacturers by $4 billion will do anything to increase the supply of oil, or will do anything but make gasoline prices skyrocket even further.
Later, at a White House news conference, Obama press secretary Jay Carney could not really explain why Obama supported tax breaks for oil companies as a Senator in 2005, but now opposes them as President.
A reporter asked Carney: Why did the President vote for the energy bill in 2005 as a Senator that had over $2 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry? They were making a lot of money then too.
Carney: What I can tell you Ed is that the oil and gas companies in this country are making record profits, now, in 2012. The price at the pump is very high and that is plenty of incentive for these companies to continue drill, to continue to explore, to continue to develop energy sources here in the United States and abroad. There is no reason for the American taxpayer to subsidize that activity.
Reporter Ed Henry: So why’d he vote for it?
Carney: I haven’t examined the vote, or what the prices were at the time, or the whole bill it was attached to. What I know and what the President knows is that this year, 2012, when we are seeing high prices at the pump, high prices in the international oil markets and high profits for the oil and gas companies, there is no reason to continue these kinds of subsidies. Take that argument to the people, I don’t think they’ll go along with it.
This desperate and transparent ploy by Obama to save his failed presidency by appearing to do something to rescue his destructive energy policies is obviously not getting any traction in the Congress. It remains to be seen whether the voting public can be charmed into believing—contrary to Sen. McConnell—that this is “really the best we can do.”
Carney Dodges Obama 2005 Vote For Energy Tax Cuts
Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions). The Arena is read by more people in Louisville than in any other city in America. Photo credits: gatewaypundit.com, WikiMedia.