BY WESLEY P. HESTER
Calling for an end to federal tax subsidies for big oil companies, U.S. Senate candidate Timothy M. Kaine is calling on his Republican opponents to join him.
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats began debating legislation to cut $21 billion in tax subsidies from big oil companies and use the money to reduce the federal debt.
The bill is aimed the five biggest oil companies — ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, BP and Chevron — the chief executive officers of which will testify before a Democrat-controlled Senate committee Thursday.
Kaine said cutting the “costly loopholes” was a solid first step toward reducing government spending.
“American families are paying exorbitant prices at the pump. There’s no reason that big oil companies should be receiving special tax breaks while they gouge consumers with high gas prices and make record profits,” he said.
Kaine added that he was hopeful ”that George Allen, Jamie Radtke and others vying to fill Senator Webb’s seat will join me in sending a bipartisan message that it’s time to choose fiscal responsibility and Virginia consumers over government giveaways for big oil companies.”
Radtke, a tea party candidate seeking the GOP nomination, said tax code reform and loophole-closing was all well and fine, but suggested the proposal was merely a tax increases in disguise.
“A tax increase when gasoline is at $4 a gallon is the last thing we need. If Tim Kaine and President Obama are truly concerned about the high cost of gas for Virginia families, then they should join me in calling for the lifting of restrictions on drilling, including off Virginia’s coast. We need to drill more, drill now and pay less,” she said.
Katie Wright, a spokeswoman for Allen, agreed, and suggested the proposal was a publicity stunt.
“The Obama administration’s counterproductive energy policies are driving up the cost of gas,” she said. “Instead of unleashing our American energy resources Democrats are returning to old schemes that will increase taxes and pass the increased cost to consumers at the pump. Policies that produce less gas at a greater cost only makes sense in Washington.”