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March 29, 2012

President Obama prods Congress to tax oil companies; Senate votes no

Less than hour after President Barack Obama used an appearance in the Rose Garden to urge Republicans to approve new taxes on big oil, the Senate rejected the measure with a 51 to 47 vote (it needed 60 to pass)

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell noted it was a bipartisan vote: four Democrats (including the chair of the small business committee and a member of the Dem leadership) voted with Republicans on what GOP leaders called Obama's "plan to raise taxes on American energy manufacturers.

Earlier, Obama pressed Congress, saying members "have a simple choice to make. They can stand with big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people."

White House Press Secrtary Jay Carney called the vote "unfortunate," charging that "Senate Republicans overwhelmingly chose to side with oil and gas companies instead of the American people." 

Good morning.  Today, Members of Congress have a simple choice to make.  They can stand with big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people. 

 Right now, the biggest oil companies are raking in record profits – profits that go up every time folks like these pull into a gas station.  But on top of these record profits, oil companies are also getting billions a year in taxpayer subsidies – a subsidy they’ve enjoyed year after year for the last century.

 

Think about that.  It’s like hitting the American people twice.  You’re already paying a premium at the pump right now.  And on top of that, Congress thinks it’s a good idea to send billions more of your tax dollars to the oil industry?

 

It’s not like these are companies that can’t stand on their own.  Last year, the three biggest U.S. oil companies took home more than $80 billion in profit.  Exxon pocketed nearly $4.7 million every hour.  And when the price of oil goes up, prices at the pump go up, and so do these companies’ profits.  In fact, one analysis shows that every time gas goes up by a penny, these companies usually pocket another $200 million in quarterly profits.  Meanwhile, these companies pay a lower tax rate than most other companies on their investments – partly because we’re giving them billions in tax giveaways every year.

 

Now, we all know that drilling for oil has to be a key part of our energy strategy.  And we want our oil companies to succeed.  That’s why under my administration, we’ve opened up millions of acres of federal lands and waters to oil and gas production.  We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs to a record high.  We’ve added enough oil and gas pipeline to circle the Earth and then some.  And just yesterday, we announced the next step for potential new oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic.

 

The fact is, we’re producing more oil right now than we have in eight years, and we’re importing less of it too.  For two years in a row, America has bought less oil from other countries than we produce here at home – for the first time in over a decade.  Simply put, American oil is booming.

 

So the oil industry is doing just fine.  With record profits and rising production, I’m not worried about the big oil companies.  With high oil prices, they’ve got more than enough incentive to produce more.  I think it’s time they got by without more help from taxpayers who are having a tough enough time paying their bills and filling up their tanks.  And I think it’s curious that some of the folks in Congress who are the first to belittle investments in new sources of energy are the ones fighting the hardest to keep these giveaways for big oil companies.

 

Instead of taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s never been more profitable, we should be using that money to double-down on investments in clean energy technologies that have never been more promising.  Investments in wind power and solar power and biofuels; in fuel-efficient cars and trucks and homes and buildings.  That’s the future.  That’s the only way we’ll break this cycle of high gas prices that happens year after year after year. 

 

We can’t just drill our way out of this problem.  We use more than 20% of the world’s oil, but we only have 2% of the world’s known oil reserves. That means we could drill every drop of American oil tomorrow – but we’d still have to buy oil from other countries to make up that difference.  We’d still have to depend on other countries to meet our energy needs.

 

That is not the future I want for America.  I don’t want folks like these to have to pay more at the pump every time there’s unrest in the Middle East.  I don’t want our kids to be held hostage to events on the other side of the world.  In America, we control our own destiny.  We forge our own future. 

 

That’s why as long as I am President, America will pursue an all-of-the-above energy strategy. 

 

Yes, we’ll continue to develop our oil and gas resources in a responsible way.  But we’ll keep developing more advanced, homegrown biofuels, like the kinds that are already powering truck fleets across America. 

 

We’ll keep investing in clean energy, like the wind power and solar power that’s already lighting thousands of homes and creating thousands of jobs. 

 

We’ll keep manufacturing more cars and trucks that get more miles to the gallon so that you can fill up less. 

 

We’ll keep building more homes and businesses that waste less energy so that you’re in charge of your energy bills. 

 

And we will do all of this by harnessing our most inexhaustible resource of all – American ingenuity and imagination.

 

That’s where we need to keep going. That’s what’s at stake right now. That’s the choice we face.

 

And that’s the choice facing Congress today.  They can either vote to spend billions of dollars on oil subsidies that keep us trapped in the past.  Or they can vote to end these taxpayer subsidies so that we can invest in the future.  It’s that simple. 

 

As long as I’m President, I’ll put my faith in the future.  And the people I’ve talked to around the country – the people here with us today – they put their faith in the future, too.  Because we’re Americans.  That’s what we do.  That’s who we are.  We innovate.  We discover.  We seek new solutions to our oldest challenges. And we succeed.  I believe we can do it again. And today, the American people are going to be watching to see if their Members of Congress believe that too. 

 

 

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Shannon Parker

I'm used to more stringent reporting than I see here.

This measure needed 60 votes for what reason? Because this is a cloture vote, not a measure. A cloture vote is one that cuts of a filibuster. In this case,as in so many pursued by the Republican leadership during the Obama Administration, the filibuster was promised but never carried out.
This threat of filibuster prevented President Obama's plan to withdraw tax breaks the Oil Industry has received for decades.
It was not an attempt to raise taxes and the Senate refused to allow a vote on it.
Wording matters. But you knew that, right?

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