Obama attacks Romney on oil tax break remarks he never made

Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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President Barack Obama is back on the campaign trail, blasting the “fake” Mitt Romney for false claims he supposedly made during Wednesday night’s presidential debate.

“Last night, my opponent says he refuses to close the loophole that gives big oil companies $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies every year,” Obama said at a Denver campaign event on Thursday. “He ruled out closing the loophole that gives oil companies $4 billion in corporate welfare.”

Obama continued this line of attack at other campaign events as well.

“The guy who was playing Mitt Romney said he refuses to close a loophole that gives big oil companies $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies every single year,” Obama said in Wisconsin on Thursday.

And again at a Friday event in Virginia, Obama claimed Romney said that there is “no way” he’d close loopholes for oil companies.

“He said there’s no way that he’d close the loophole that gives big oil companies billions each year in corporate warfare,” Obama said on Friday.

In fact, Mitt Romney said during the debate that getting rid of tax breaks for oil companies was “on the table” and that these breaks probably wouldn’t survive a lowering of the corporate tax rate.

“But, you know, if we get that tax rate from 35 percent down to 25 percent, why, that $2.8 billion is on the table,” Romney said during the debate. “Of course it’s on the table. That’s probably not going to survive you get that rate down to 25 percent.”

Both candidates have expressed support for eliminating tax breaks for oil companies, but such proposals face opposition in Congress.

However, the Huffington Post reported that Kevin Book, an analyst with ClearView Energy Partners, said there’s a potential opening for cuts to tax breaks because conservative leaders in the House represent energy consumers, not energy producers.

The Hill reported that the oil industry had a “lukewarm” reaction to Romney’s comments during the debate, with the industry’s main lobby open to discussion about the issue.

“We welcome a discussion about broad tax reform that would lower the corporate tax rate and get rid of certain incentives,” said Carlton Carroll, a spokesman for the America Petroleum Institute.

“We just can’t give you a definite answer on what we would support and what we wouldn’t until we see a proposal. As they say, the devil could be in the details,” he continued.

John Felmy, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, told reporters on Thursday that removing incentives would have a disproportionate impact on small, independent firms. He was also skeptical of how serious Romney was about ending the tax breaks.

“Saying something is on the table doesn’t mean you are taking away. It just means it is up for discussion,” he said.

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