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Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, American consumers are hurting. Unemployment remains stubbornly high at 9 percent. And, energy costs are escalating, and increasing the cost of many other goods and services, such as groceries, clothing and other household necessities.
During the 2-week Senate recess in April, I met with Iowans at meetings in 33 of Iowa's counties. One issue that came up at every single meeting was the high cost of gasoline at the pump. Iowa is a State that depends heavily on energy. Our rural families commute many miles to go to work, take kids to school, and do their household shopping.
During the spring planting season, farmers use hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline in their trucks and tractors as they work to get the crops in the ground. Iowa's manufacturers are also heavily dependent on energy.
Prices at the pump are near $4 a gallon. All of our constituents are crying out for action to lower these prices. So, it makes sense that Congress would consider steps to address the rising energy costs and work to drive down the costs to consumers at the pump.
Unfortunately, that is not what the bill before us would do. This bill would not drive down the cost at the pump at all, and it would very likely lead to higher prices for consumers.
The bill before us would increase taxes for the five largest domestic oil producers. It won't lead to the production of any more oil and gas. It won't create a single job. It very well could lead to less domestic energy production and less employment in the U.S. energy sector.
At a time of $4 gas and 9 percent unemployment, why would the other side push a bill that will increase the cost of energy production, reduce domestic energy supply, and lead to job losses? The fact is, this bill is not about reducing prices at the pump. The bill before us is not about reducing our dependence on foreign oil. It is about raising taxes. And one thing is for certain, if you raise taxes on an activity, you get less of it.
What this Congress should be doing is increasing the domestic production of energy as a way to increase jobs, increase domestic investment, and lower prices at the pump. This bill does none of those things, and actually does quite the opposite.
That is why I will oppose this tax hike bill, and support Senator McConnell's alternative bill that will enact measures that will lead to the development and production of domestic oil and gas. We can lower gas prices through increased supply. We can lower our dependence on foreign oil by opening up and providing permits for the development of resources that God gave us here in our country. It makes no sense to close off vast areas of resources here in the United States, only to go hat-in-hand to dictators and oil Sheiks in Venezuela, Libya or Persian Gulf countries.
In closing, I would like to mention that a number of my colleagues have argued against the tax hikes on domestic energy producers as an unfair attack on just a handful of companies. I noticed with amusement that the President of the Petrochemical and Refiners Association released a statement on this bill that, ``Imposing what would amount to a multibillion-dollar energy tax would be bad for American consumers, for the American economy and for America's national security. It would hurt American companies producing energy and fuels in our own country and give foreign competitors an unfair advantage, endangering American jobs and making America more reliant on foreign energy.'' Yet this same person, along with many supporters of the oil industry, hypocritically believes targeting biofuel tax incentives is just fine.
Singling out and targeting domestic biofuels, a critical piece of our energy supply, will do nothing to reduce prices at the pump. It will do just the opposite. And, it will cost jobs and increase our dependence on foreign oil. I only hope that the Senators who believe it is unfair to target the oil industry with punitive tax hikes will also recognize that the same is true when they suggest targeting domestic biofuels production.
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