ABC's Sunlen Miller reports:
President Obama sent a letter today to House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and other Congressional leaders, urging them to take “immediate action” to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.
The president was responding to Speaker Boehner’s comments yesterday to ABC’s Jon Karl where he said reviewing oil subsidies is "certainly something we should be looking at." Today, Obama says he was “heartened” by Speaker Boehner openness to this issue and called on Congress to move. Watch Jon Karl’s interview with Boehner.
“I am writing to urge you to take immediate action to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, and to use those dollars to invest in clean energy to reduce our dependences on foreign oil.”
The president admits that there is “no silver bullet” to address rising gas prices in the short term, but “there are steps we can take to ensure the American people don’t fall victim to skyrocketing gas prices over the long term.”
One of those steps, he says, is eliminating unwarranted tax breaks to the oil and gas industry.
“Our outdated tax laws currently provide the oil and gas industry more than $4 billion per year in these subsidies, even though oil prices are high and the industry is projected to report outsized profits this quarter,” Obama says, “as we work together to reduce our deficits, we simply can’t afford these wasteful subsidies, and that is why I proposed eliminate them in my FY11 and FY12 budgets.”
UPDATE: Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in response that the President's proposal would raise gas prices.
“The Speaker wants to increase the supply of American energy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and he is only interested in reforms that actually lower energy costs and create American jobs. Unfortunately, what the President has suggested so far would simply raise taxes and increase the price at the pump.”
Today at the White House briefing spokesman Jay Carney said that Boehner’s office is wrong in saying that the president’s proposal would actually raise taxes and increase gas prices.
“He's wrong in the sense that if you're telling me that eliminating a loophole in the tax code is somehow burdensome, and it — on the tax responsibilities of a major corporation that's, you know, announcing billions in dollars of profits, apparently a hundred million dollars per day in profits, I — you know, I think that that's one way to look at it.”
Carney admitted that removing oil and gas subsidies from corporations that are reporting record profits and using that money to invest in a long-term energy strategy is “not going to lower the gas price at the pump tomorrow.”
“ But what it will do, what the president believes is essential to do, is create a situation where we have the right policies in place and the right diversity of energy sources so that we are insulated from these kind of — these kinds of price shocks in the future. And that's very farsighted. That's the focus of his — that's his objective with this proposal.”