Republicans are unwilling to slap a 25% windfall profits tax and rescind $17 billion in tax breaks over the next 10 years for Big Oil that were earmarked to provide incentives to develop alternative energy, arguing that such measures would only add to gasoline prices at the pump and increase U.S. reliance on foreign oil.
In blocking a Democrat-led bill voted on in the Senate yesterday, they also blocked renewal of the renewable energy production tax credit for solar, wind and other alternative energy sources.
The bill would have also given Congress greater powers to take action against excessive oil market speculation, increasingly viewed as a big factor in the oil price rise as Saudi Arabia makes the case that recent price rises are unwarranted in light of supply-demand conditions. It would also have made energy price gouging a federal crime and would have opened up the possibility of anti-trust actions against OPEC members, accoridng to an AP report.
The Republican blockade didnt’ come as any big surprise as Pres. Bush made it clear he would veto the bill if it made its way to his desk.
The bill would have imposed a windfall profits tax on five multinational oil companies: Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Shell Oil Co., BP America Inc. and ConocoPhillips Co.
The latest Republican rebuff is only the latest demonstration of the fundamental differences and inability of government leaders to reach any accord or take any action when it comes to national energy policy.
While Republicans argued that a 25% windfall profits tax would discourage domestic production, Democrats countered that the bill differed substantially from similar ones presented in the 1980s in that the tax package on the other hand offered incentives to invest in alternative energy sources and in expanding refinery capacity.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama voted in favor of the bill while Republican presidential nominee John McCain opposed it, favoring across-the-board tax reductions for industry instead.
Cheap gasoline prices, putting money in people’s pockets, fear of job losses and excessive government regulation have been enough to satisfy the mass of American voters for generations now when it comes to energy policy, and Republican politicians are apparently counting on the same formula continuing to work.
They are willing to somehow come up with public money for stimulus rebates and to continue financing the war in Iraq, and sending American boys and girls to the Middle East, across central and into south Asia in an effort to secure supplies of “cheap” oil, however. Though none of these are ever factored into prices at the pump, it’s clear that they are an additional cost to our dependence on oil and gasoline and fuel prices at the pump.