Obama touts higher taxes on oil companies

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barrack Obama used the Rose Garden today to make a poll-tested demand for higher tax payments from oil companies, to repeat controversial claims about U.S. oil reserves and to urge more spending on green-tech companies and on biofuels, such as algae.

Obama campaign-style appearance was intended to highlight a move by Senate Democrats to exempt oil companies from routine investment tax credits. The Democratic measure lost badly, 47 to 51.

However, the televised demand and the vote helps to shift the media attention and the public’s focus from the administration’s policies that critics say have contributed to the near-record gas prices, as well as record unemployment and record government debt.

“The biggest oil companies are raking in record profits… [they’re] also getting billions, billions, a year in taxpayer subsidies… It’s like hitting the American people twice,” Obama declared from a podium.

“We only have 2% of the world’s known oil reserves… 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,” he said, despite government data and numerous media reports showing the nations oil-reserves are at least time times larger, he said.

“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.”

The president’s focus on oil companies’ taxes echoes the results of a recent poll by Hart/McInturff, which showed that 74 percent of respondents favored cutting “tax credits” for the oil and gas industries.

Republicans, however, are dismissive of president’s pitch, and say denial of the tax credits would reduce oil drilling and boost gas-prices.

Republicans have also highlighted failures in Obama’s green-tech sector push, such as the bankrupted Solyndra company, and have derided Obama’s touting of untested alternatives to oil and gas.

On Feb. 23, for example, Obama visited swing-state Florida to tout his energy policy, and there lauded the potential of algae.

“You’ve got a bunch of algae out here, right? If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we’ll be doing all right,” Obama said at the University of Miami.

“Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in the United States,” he said.

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