It is a bit amusing to watch Congress scrambling to figure out how to deal with rising gas prices. Even President Bush is calling to get rid of $2 billion in tax breaks that Congress passed as part of the energy bill. Despite the braggadocio, however, nobody wants to go too far, reports The New York Times:
Democrats called for a 60-day halt on collecting federal gasoline taxes, which are 18.4 cents a gallon, but they were openly split about the more radical step of imposing a windfall profits tax on major oil companies. For their part, many Republicans are torn between wanting to show their sympathy for consumers and maintaining their longstanding support for the oil industry.
"Nobody's happy with gasoline prices being where they are," said Representative Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who last year championed scores of new tax breaks for the industry.
Rep. Barton, of course, is the second top recipient of oil and gas campaign contributions in the House, second only to soon-to-retire Rep. Tom DeLay. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry as contributed nearly $33 million since 2003, 81 percent of that to Republicans. Is it any wonder that Congress is finding it difficult to get really tough on this industry?