In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, railed against partisan legislation that fails to address the current energy crisis and lower prices at the pump for Utahns and other American consumers.
The Senate is slated to vote on an energy tax bill, S. 940, that would hit energy producers in Utah and across the nation with a $21 billion tax hike later today.
Below are excerpts of HatchвЂ™s speech:
On the Obama AdministrationвЂ™s Locking Up Domestic Energy in Utah:
вЂњSince taking office President Obama has cut new energy leases by more than 60 percent in this country and by more than 80 percent in the state of Utah!В We are all aware of the PresidentвЂ™s efforts to forestall domestic energy development offshore, but less media attention has been given to his successful efforts to move the energy industry off of our federal lands in the Intermountain West.В The Department of the Interior oversees more than 42 percent of the State of Utah, including much of the land where domestic energy production is pursued.В One of the early moves of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar was his controversial withdrawal of energy leases that had already been auctioned off and paid for by energy developers.вЂќ
On Attempting to Raise Taxes in the Name of Deficit Reduction:
вЂњAnd for what it is worth, this bill wonвЂ™t help pay down the deficit either. Nothing in this bill mandates that these new revenues would be dedicated to deficit reduction.В In fact, any net revenue increase in this bill would be set aside, and added to what we call savings on OMBвЂ™sВ В PAYGO scorecard, revenue that can be used to pay for future legislation. So letвЂ™s be clear about what is going on here. Democrats want to increase taxes to pay for more government spending. They have been refreshingly open about their intentions.вЂќ
On the Obama AdministrationвЂ™s War On Energy:
вЂњBut what it does manage to do is gloss over the Obama administrationвЂ™s war on energy. The ugly truth here is that this Administration, abetted by congressional Democrats, has an energy policy designed to increase costs, at the same time that it purports to stand shoulder to shoulder with working families that canвЂ™t make ends meet because of those increased energy costs. This is the PresidentвЂ™s Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe. The administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth.вЂќ
Why S.940 is Bad Policy:
“S. 940 is terrible policy, in a long line of terrible policies. It is lousy energy policy. And it is lousy tax policy. Increasing taxes on American production will only stifle our economy.В If Democrats want to have a conversation about tax policy and tax reform, we are ready to have that conversation.В But we should not be exercising our power to tax in a punitive way that singles out particular industries.
“Fortunately, I donвЂ™t think that the American people are going to buy this latest installment of LetвЂ™s Raise Some Taxes. This bill that we are debating today will not do anything to address high gas prices, and its Democratic supporters have acknowledged this. But what it will do is raise revenue for the government to spend. Yet again, the party of big government has proposed additional taxes to fund that big government.”
On the Adverse Economic Impact of High Prices at the Pump :
вЂњThe issue of high gas prices is much greater than the price at the pump.В The Joint Economic Committee concluded that the weak U.S. dollar has added 56 cents to every gallon of gas.В This is a drag on a fragile economic recovery.В It inflates the prices of everything from groceries to school supplies.В Just recently we found out that 1 in 7 Americans are on food stamps.В One writer has dubbed this the Food Stamp Recovery.В And this weak recovery is made weaker by high gas prices.вЂќ
On Lowering Prices at the Pump:
вЂњAmericans are rightly upset about the cost of gasoline. But the solution to higher gas prices is not to raise taxes.В Raising taxes on domestic energy producers might be good for Hugo Chavez, but it does nothing to lift the burden of increasing gas prices that is afflicting the American economy and working families.В Under this bill Hugo ChavezвЂ™s Citgo would receive a tax incentive while U.S. companies like Exxon and Chevron would not.вЂќ