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Opinion

Obama and Reid offer hot air, not cheaper gas

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With gas prices hovering at $4 a gallon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada reportedly wants a Senate vote this week on a measure to punish oil companies by denying them $21 billion in tax credits and deductions routinely given to other businesses. At President Obama's request, Reid would instead use the money to fund alternative energy development projects that the Energy Information Administration says won't be able to replace fossil fuels to any significant degree for two to three decades.

At best, Reid's approach will do absolutely nothing to take the pressure off the wallet of American families. More likely, the Obama-Reid program will make gasoline more expensive. By discouraging U.S. oil production, Obama and Reid will force American consumers to be even more dependent on foreign sources like OPEC and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. This in turn will hinder the economy from creating new jobs to ease the 9 percent unemployment rate.

But don't take our word for it. Obama and Reid should pay close attention to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), as well as to members of the Democratic caucus.

When Obama first proposed this attack on the oil industry in his February 2012 budget proposal, the CRS concluded that "the proposals also would make oil and natural gas more expensive for U.S. consumers and likely increase foreign dependence."

And during a March hearing on the Obama proposal, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said "draconian taxes on the oil and gas industry" will "cut jobs and increase our dependency on foreign oil." She added the extremely common sense observation that "while we move to alternatives and renewable fuels, we need to continue to develop our domestic supplies of natural gas and oil. These traditional fuels are the bridge to a greener energy grid and a greater degree of energy independence for the nation."

Landrieu's comments were echoed by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who said Obama's proposal "would cost thousands of jobs in Alaska and across the country. Energy companies are among the businesses investing and creating jobs at a time when our country needs both." No wonder when the Senate had multiple opportunities in March to adopt the Obama proposal, it was defeated with bipartisan opposition, including Landrieu, Begich, and five other Senate Democrats. Reid should cut the demagoguery and get serious about working to reduce gas prices by helping the energy industry produce more domestic oil to increase the supply of gas available at the pump.

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