President Obama called on Congress on Tuesday to immediately end tax subsidies for oil and gas companies, as he attempts to limit the political fallout of surging gas prices.
In a letter to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, Obama urged “immediate action” to roll back more than $4 billion “in unwarranted tax breaks,” saying the money is better spent on new technology that will reduce the cost of fueling the nation.
Gas prices are causing pain, for the public and the president.
President Obama says one answer to high gasoline prices is to spend money developing renewable energy sources. (April 23)
“[H]igh oil prices provide more than enough profit motive to invest in domestic exploration and production without special tax breaks,” he wrote.
The president has called for ending the tax breaks for two years, but taking more action on the issue has become a priority as fast-rising gas prices become a major political liability for the president.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday found that just 39 percent of those who call gas prices a “serious financial hardship” approve of Obama’s job performance.
The poll showed that 60 percent of independents who have been hit hard by gas prices say they won’t support Obama’s reelection.
More broadly, about six in 10 respondents said they had cut back on driving because of fuel prices, and seven in 10 said gas prices are causing financial hardship.
Gas prices climbed last week to $3.88 a gallon on average, the highest pump price since August 2008.
Obama’s letter seized on comments Monday by House Speaker John Boehner (R), who said he is open to curbing tax breaks on oil companies. “Certainly I think it’s something we ought to be looking at,” Boehner said in an interview with ABC News.
In a statement released in response to the president’s letter, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck did not signal quite the same level of agreement.
“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,” he said. “Unfortunately, what the President has suggested so far would simply raise taxes and increase the price at the pump.”