While millions of Americans are feeling squeezed at the gas pump, Republican presidential hopefuls are reportedly pumping energy experts for advice and talking on a variety of matters, including gas prices, oil drilling and climate change.
“That’s the first chore: Give me a 15-page memo on anything that should be said and thought about,” GOP consultant Mike McKenna told Politico.
The report speculated that the advice—some free, some paid—could result in thousands of jobs for Republicans if the GOP were to win the White House in 2012. Democratic National Committee spokesperson Hari Sevugan said that it is “stunning” that Republican contenders would seek advice from the very companies that are profiting from soaring energy prices.
“It’s not just asking the wolf to guard the hen house, it’s inviting him in, giving him the best seat at the table and tying a napkin around his neck, Sevugan said. Instead, we should be working together to deliver relief by ending the $4 billion in tax breaks these oil companies are enjoying, snuffing out price gauging at the pump and implementing a comprehensive 21st century approach to meet our energy needs going forward, as President Obama is working to do.”
Congressional lawmakers currently are debating whether to end the $4 billion in tax subsidies for oil and gas companies that are reporting record profits. The White House and Democrats are calling for an end to the subsidies but divided on whether to use the savings to reduce the deficit, which Senate Democrats are promoting, or to invest in energy and climate change innovations as Obama has suggested. House Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing legislation to expand oil drilling. But with gas prices hovering at about $4 per gallon, it’s a political risk to do anything that would benefit energy companies.
On Thursday, energy company execs will be put on the hot seat in a Senate Finance Committee hearing where they’ll be forced to justify continuing their oil and gas subsidies amid rising energy prices. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) also has announced that the upper chamber plans to introduce policy initiatives to end them.
“For us, it’s a two-for. We can stop adding to profits of big oil companies and reduce our deficits,” he told reporters Monday.
(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)