House Speaker John Boehner was in his Ohio district yesterday, and told ABC News “I don’t think the big oil companies need to have the oil depletion allowances, but for small, independent, oil and gas producers, if they didn’t have this, there’d be even less exploration in America than there is today.”
Today Senator Chuck Schumer — a key figure in shaping the Democrats policy and messaging — latched onto part of Boehner’s statement, and tried to drive a wedge between Boehner and his Republican conference.
Schumer, in a public statement, said he’s glad that “gas hitting four dollars per gallon seems to have finally caused Speaker Boehner to see the light on the insanity of providing subsidies to profit-soaked big oil companies.”
Senate Republican leaders should follow his example, and stop their senseless filibusters against attempts to repeal these giveaways. At a time when we have a record deficit, it makes no sense to keep rewarding oil companies for socking it to consumers at the pump. These subsidies are a relic of a time when oil was $17 per barrel and oil companies needed incentives to drill. That time has long since ended.
Schumer is, of course, dutifully ignoring Boehner’s spokesman, who is now fighting to put his boss’ comments into context.
Update: “I was heartened that Speaker Boehner yesterday expressed openness to eliminating these tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry,” Obama wrote in a letter to legislative leaders, which was just released by the White House.