As oil companies are about to announce record profits from skyrocketing gas prices, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has conceded that their multi-billion-dollar subsidies should be on the negotiating table. Under tenacious questioning by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl about “obscene” oil industry profits and $4 gas, Boehner admitted that oil companies have “some part of this to blame.” “I don’t think the big oil companies need to have the oil depletion allowances,” he said, which is a nearly $1 billion annual subsidy for smaller oil companies, part of the $4 billion in subsidies identified by President Obama. In the interview, Boehner recognized that oil companies are not “paying their fair share”:
It’s certainly something we should be looking at. We’re in a time when the federal government’s short on revenues. We need to control spending but we need to have revenues to keep the government going. They ought to be paying their fair share.
Last month, the Republican caucus under Boehner voted in lockstep to protect corporate welfare for Big Oil. Furthermore, Boehner has said he “fully support[s]” the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) budget plan, which “retains $40 billion in Big Oil tax loopholes while completely eliminating investments in the clean energy technologies of the future.”
According to Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, Boehner now supports oil subsidies again. Although the speaker told Jonathan Karl that the government needs to increase revenues (i.e. raise taxes) and that the oil depletion allowance should be dropped, according to Steel, that’s not what happened:
The speaker made clear in the interview that raising taxes was a nonstarter, and he’s told the president that. He simply wasn’t going to take the bait and fall into the trap of defending ‘Big Oil’ companies.
It appears that Boehner’s support for ending some oil subsidies wasn’t intended to be a factual statement.