ABC’s Sunlen Miller reports:
President Obama was asked the question on the minds of most Americans, “What can you do right now, immediately, to bring sanity to gas prices?”
During an interview with ABC affiliate WXYZ in the Map Room of the White House, the president referenced a letter he sent today to House Speaker John Boehner, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Congressional leaders regarding tax subsidies oil companies get for exploration. Obama urged Congress to take “immediate action” to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.
“Right now we give about $4 billion in subsidies to oil companies thru the tax code,” Obama said to WXYZ. “Well that makes no sense. Even their CEO’s have admitted that when prices are like they are now they don’t need any more incentive to pump for more oil. So we’ve got to make sure that we take those $4 billion and reinvest it in things like alternative energy vehicles.”
Boehner had sounded open to ending the subsidies in an interview Monday with ABC’s Jonathan Karl. But today he rejected the President’s letter because, according to his spokesman, raising taxes on oil companies would lead to higher gas prices for Americans.
“We’ve got a real problem here,” he said. “This is obviously something that is affecting everybody. And we are looking at every option that is out there in terms of dealing with it. Now I tried to be honest with the American people when I made a presentation a couple weeks ago and I said there’s no silver bullet.”
The president said that there are a few things that have been done to help broadly speaking and more long-term — including working with the auto industry to increase fuel efficiency standards on cars, and making investments in alternative fuel vehicles.
“And we’ve got to continue to increase production,” Obama added, “We can do that in a safe and effective way. We don’t want to repeat of the oil spill that we had in the Gulf last year. But we’ve got to continue to make sure that US production is strong.”
The president said that they are also in “a lot of conversations with major oil producers,” like Saudi Arabia to “let them know that it’s not going to be good for the if our economy is hobbled because of high oil prices.”