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Wapokoneta Daily News - "Holiday fuels debates"

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Location: Wapokoneta, OH

Wapokoneta Daily News - "Holiday fuels debates"

Congressional members on both sides of the aisle are divided on a proposal by a presidential nominee to give motorists a gas tax holiday this summer, but one U.S. representative from Ohio is voicing support for the measure.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., presented the idea a couple of weeks ago during a campaign stop, a proposal strongly supported by U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana.

"We think the gas tax holiday makes sense," Jordan told the media Thursday during a teleconference. "I think families and business owners are overtaxed, and if we can reduce that tax burden then it makes sense."

The representative said two recently proposed amendements to hold spending at the previous year's level failed Wednesday to gain enough votes on the floor. Jordan introduced nine amendments during the budget process in 2007 to hold spending at the previous year's level in an effort to reduce increased federal spending by $20 billion. Jordan said if Congress would have held spending last year at 2006's level, money would have been available to cover anticipated revenue losses to the Highway Trust Fund this summer if the gas tax holiday is approved. The gas tax holiday is estimated to cost the Highway Trust Fund, which funds bridge and road improvements, approximately $9 billion in revenues.

"By holding the line in spending, we would have more than twice as much as needed to take care of the trust fund revenues and we would still be able to give motorists a break at the pump this summer," Jordan said. "It is something that is critical."

The Congressman from Ohio said the price of oil also is taking a toll on the economy.

"The biggest thing hurting the economy is the price of oil — there is no doubt about it," Jordan said. "Oil is central to our economy and that is why we need more supply. We are all in favor of moving to renewables, but you cannot get their overnight. In the meantime, it is critical that we get more supply."

Jordan is finding support from both sides of the aisle — Democratic Rep. Joe
Cowley, of New York, has sided with him and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-West Chester, in exploring a national gas tax holiday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, have voiced opposition to the gas tax holiday and are joined across the aisle by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Bainbridge.
A spokesman from Kaptur's office told the Wapakoneta Daily News the representative is encouraging public participation and comment as the Federal Trade Commission drafts new rules to prevent market manipulation at the gasoline pump and throughout the petroleum industry.

Congress provided the FTC with new authority, under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, to prevent market manipulation and to seek public comment.

The comment period ends June 6.

"Most consumers believe that gasoline prices are manipulated in some fashion," Kaptur said in a news release provided by her office. "Now the public has an opportunity to address this issue and propose solutions, especially focusing on what constitutes manipulation or deceptive behavior on the part of the oil companies and gasoline retailers and what the appropriate penalties should be."

McCain's proposal also is supported by Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., but she proposes making up anticipated lost revenue by increasing taxes on oil companies.

Senate Democrats most recently proposed increasing the margin requirement by commodity traders when they go to secure a purchase when buying oil futures. Traders are required to put down between 5 percent and 7 percent compared to 50 percent on the stock market.

Jordan addressed the Democrats' latest proposal.

"My response to the majority party's talk of speculators driving up the price of oil is if we would make a commitment to get more supply then those same speculators would see there is going to be more supply on the horizon," Jordan said. "I am convinced that the day the bill is passed to allow drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Reserve), to allow drilling on our outer continental shelf, coastal areas, and when we have demonstrated a full commitment domestically — I am convinced you would see the price go down even before the first drill hits the ground."

Jordan claims the United States is the only industrialized nation that locks up 85 percent of its deep sea energy reserves, and he believes being able to explore and to drill is those areas "is critical."

"The members of the majority party just don't want to allow the exploration to take place in the coastal waters where we know there is oil," Jordan said. "They don't want to allow drilling in ANWR, and it is just unfortunate because that would help tremendously with the price — it would help us from a national security standpoint as well."

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