Facing attacks from the campaign trail over the soaring price of gas, President Obama today called for Congress to eliminate $4 billion in subsidies for oil and gas companies, calling them "outrageous" and "inexcusable."
"I'm asking Congress: Eliminate this oil industry giveaway right away. I want them to vote on this in the next few weeks. Let's put every single member of Congress on record: You can - you can stand with the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people," the president said at a speech in Nashua, N.H.
The president's proposal isn't likely to get far in Congress, where Republicans claim the idea amounts to a tax increase on energy production and would not lower gas prices.
"Right now 4 billion of your tax dollars - 4 billion - subsidizes the oil industry every year," the president said to boos from the crowd at Nashua Community College. "These companies are making record profits right now, tens of billions of dollars a year. Every time you … fill up your gas tank, they're making money, every time."
"Does anyone really think that Congress should give them another $4 billion this year?" Obama asked.
"No!" the audience shouted back.
The president's speech came as Republican front-runner Mitt Romney pivoted his standard stump speech to focus on energy as well, saying the president "does not understand energy. He is the problem; he is not the solution."
The president accused his GOP rivals of trying to score political points from the rising cost of gas and aggressively targeted Republicans who have called for increased domestic oil production to bring down the cost of gas.
"Anybody who tells you that we can just drill our way out of this problem does not know what they're talking about, or they're not telling you the truth, one or the other," the president said.
Instead, Obama argued his "all-of-the-above" approach is the "only real solution" to tackle the nation's long-term energy challenges.
"The easiest thing in the world is to make phony election-year promises about lowering gas prices. But what's harder is to make a serious, sustained commitment to tackle a problem that we've been talking about for 30 years and has not been tackled, has not been solved. It's not going to be solved in one year or one term - maybe not completely even in one decade. But that's the kind of commitment that we need right now. That's what this moment requires," he said.
Steve Fox, a retiree from Peterborough, N.H., who came to see the president today, told ABC he doesn't expect the president or Republicans to exact a quick fix. "What are you gonna do? Put price controls on? If you want to pay less at the pump, don't buy as much," he said.