Kildee Backs Legislation to Assist Consumers With High Energy Costs and Slow Down Record Oil Company Profits
Cosponsors Two Bills to Tax Windfall Profits and Help Small Businesses Cope With High Fuel Costs
WASHINGTON - Congressman Dale E. Kildee (D-MI) announced his support for two bills that would help families, seniors and small businesses with skyrocketing energy costs while oil companies turn record profits. Kildee cosponsored proactive efforts to combat the continued rise in energy prices by cosponsoring both the Windfall Profits and Consumer Assistance Act and the Small Business Fuel Cost Relief Act. Kildee also renewed his call to the Bush Administration and Congressional leaders to take a stand against price gouging by big oil companies and to promote an energy policy that stimulates the market for fuel-efficient vehicles and reduces America's dependence on foreign oil.
"Record oil company profits are coming straight from the pockets of American consumers and small businesses," said Kildee. "This winter, home heating costs are expected to take an even bigger bite out of the family budget of millions of American families, leaving less for other essential items. Instead of passing tax breaks to oil companies already swimming in record profits, it's time to assist those who are trying simply to pay the bills or cover the cost of doing business."
Crude oil soared to a record $70.85 a barrel after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August. Oil is now under $60 a barrel and the retail price is around $2.40 a gallon, a full thirty cents higher than this time a year ago and close to a full dollar a gallon more than November of 2003, when it was $1.57/gal. And U.S. Department of Energy forecasts show more sticker shock is on the way for consumers. Natural gas heating costs in the Midwest are expected to climb anywhere from 40 to 60 percent this winter. Home heating costs are expected to rise more than 30%, as well.
Meanwhile, executives from five major oil companies - ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP America, and Shell Oil - testified before two Senate committees last week to defend the $30 billion in quarterly profits the five companies registered over the July-September period. ExxonMobil and Shell reported third quarter profits that were $2 and $3 billion more than the greatest quarterly profits that have ever been reported, by any company, in any country, at any time in history. Kildee has repeatedly called for President Bush to take a hard line with executives of the nation's major oil companies to learn what they are doing to reduce the cost of gasoline and remind them that unfair trading practices in the interstate trade of gasoline is illegal.
The Windfall Profits and Consumer Assistance Act would impose a windfall profits tax on the oil producers for oil sold above $40 a barrel. Half of the revenue generated by this tax would fund a tax rebate for all American consumers to help them deal with their high gas and energy costs. The other half of the revenue would go towards supplementary funding for the Low-Income High Energy Assistance Program that helps poor families and seniors of fixed incomes pay their energy bills.
The Small Business Fuel Cost Relief Act would provide tax credits to help small businesses, family farmers, and fishermen to help defray the costs of gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and heating oil. It would also increase the IRS Standard Mileage Rate to 60 miles per gallon for business owners who use their own vehicles.
Congressman Kildee also noted that during the Senate hearing, the oil company executives roundly dismissed the impact of a $14.5 billion giveaway in tax incentives for their industry in the energy law Republicans pushed through Congress last summer, a bill Kildee opposed. "Instead of passing tax breaks that even its beneficiaries admit are unnecessary," Kildee said, "Congress could have spent its time actually promoting an energy policy that promotes fuel-efficient vehicles and reduces America's dependence on foreign oil."