Apr 26, 2006

(Washington D.C.)- U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak), today made the following floor statement in support of closing abusive loopholes in the tax code that favor big oil companies.

Mr. Levin's remarks are below: 

Mr. Speaker, this vote is going to be scored by the American people, and it is going to speak volumes about whether people just talk or whether they act.  We know what is happening at the gas pump.  The average price is $2.92.  A gallon of gas today is 71 cents more than a year ago.
There were two announcements today on profits: Conoco, quarterly [profits] up 13 percent; Valero Energy Corporation, the nation's biggest independent oil refiner, said Tuesday its first quarter profit jumped 60 percent as revenues surged from higher product margins and greater refining volume.

Exxon, as we know, decided to give a $60 million compensation package and a $98 million pension payout to its former CEO, but can't do anything about these sky-high prices.

Well, what is before us?  Yesterday the President said, Record oil prices and large cash flows also mean that Congress has got to understand that these energy companies don't need unnecessary tax breaks.  That is exactly what these provisions are.

Don't obscure and talk about windfall profit taxes.  We will talk about that some other day.  These are three provisions that passed the Senate that clearly are a tax break, a loophole, and closing it would generate $5 billion.

Mr. McDermott has quoted the headline from The Washington Post.  GOP, that means the House GOP, blocks measures boosting taxes on oil company profits.  Provisions passed by the Senate would raise about $5 billion.  So there is a clear choice today.

I did look at the report on contributions to candidates by the oil and gas industry in this cycle. The top 20 are all Republicans.  People are going to have to decide what interests they are going to support.

Mr. McCrery, you said tie the hands.  There are 100 provisions.  This is three plus one. Tie the hands?  No.  What we are trying to do is to speak up for the people of this country.

I close with this:  you always talk about one aspect in terms of capital gains and dividends.  What you don't say is that every analysis we have seen indicates that this extension that you are insisting on, about 40 to 50 percent, and some say a little more than 50 percent, would go to people making over $1 million a year.

So tomorrow when people vote, they are going to have a clear choice.  It is going to be the vast majority of the American people who go to the gas pump and know how much they are paying and are hurting; or people for whom that increase to three bucks a gallon and more doesn't really matter.

So, as I said at the beginning, I don't know which interest group is going to score this.  I know how the American people are going to score this.