Boehner Gives Obama a Gas Tax Break

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With gas prices soaring Obama could face trouble in 2012. But in the near term, Obama may be able console himself with a minor silver lining: House Speaker John Boehner’s surprise willingness to contemplate cutting one tax break given to big oil companies in the U.S.

Boehner told ABC News Monday that he was open to eliminating big oil companies’ access to the “oil depletion allowance” which costs the U.S. a billion dollars in lost revenue every year. “They’ve got some part of this to blame,” Boehner told ABC, “I don’t think the big oil companies need to have the oil depletion allowances.” Doing away with the depletion allowances is “certainly something we should be looking at,” he said.

Obama jumped on the opening Tuesday, writing a letter to Congressional leaders pushing the elimination of tax breaks for big oil and gas.

I was heartened that Speaker Boehner yesterday expressed openness to eliminating these tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Our political system has for too long avoided and ignored this important step, and I hope we can come together in a bipartisan manner to get it done.

Boehner’s office shot back a statement trying to dispel the impression that there was any agreement with the President’s position.

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. Unfortunately, what the President has suggested so far would simply raise taxes and increase the price at the pump.

That doesn’t rule out a possible deal. Boehner’s willingness, in public, to contemplate cutting subsidies for big oil is an indicator of just how hostile the public response to high gas prices has been. But it also suggests that real horse-trading is underway on the deficit, with long-protected “tax expenditures” on the table with spending cuts.

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