Dems slam Repubs for oil company tax cuts

Democrats on Saturday accused the Republican-led Congress of providing tax cuts to oil companies at a time when the industry enjoys record profits and many motorists struggle to deal with rising gasoline prices.

In his party’s weekly radio address, Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan said “gas prices keep skyrocketing, and in Washington, Republicans continue to turn a blind eye to the oil industry’s activities.”

“From this Republican-controlled Congress, we hear more of the same: ‘Let’s just drill our way to energy independence, sacrifice our environment and provide big tax breaks to Big Oil,'” Stupak said.

Earlier this week, Exxon Mobil Corp., the nation’s biggest oil company, posted net income of $8.4 billion, an increase of 7 percent, during the first three months of 2006.

Stupak said the oil industry benefited from $10 billion in tax cuts in last year’s energy bill, but House Democrats want to roll back tax cuts for the industry to help pay energy bills for low-income Americans, small businesses and farmers.

The congressman, who represents a district that includes northern Michigan and the state’s Upper Peninsula, urged President Bush to investigate potential gas price gouging.

Stupak said he has proposed legislation to define price gouging and provide the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general “with the tools necessary to prosecute ‘predatory pricing.'”

Bush said Friday there was “no evidence” of price gouging of consumers. He has urged energy companies to expand refineries and natural gas pipelines and invest in renewable sources of energy.

“We realize that in crafting a new energy policy that breaks America’s oil addiction, we must be bold,” Stupak said. “Democrats stand ready to implement bold, aggressive policy changes that will alleviate today’s energy crisis and answer tomorrow’s challenges.”