Last week, while the attention of a lot of folks was directed toward the NCAA Final Four competition, a short battle was being fought in the congress, over what to do about the painful rise in gasoline prices. Previously, we told you what Kentucky’s senior senator, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell  had to say on the subject. The tag line to McConnell’s speech on the floor of the Senate was, “Is this the best we can do?”
Today, we present you with an answer to Sen. McConnell’s question; emanating from none other than Kentucky’s junior senator, Republican Rand Paul. Last Tuesday, Sen. Paul spoke in opposition to President Obama’s lame proposal to increase taxes on domestic oil companies, and presented a couple of new ideas of his own.
Readers will recall President Obama’s impassioned plea in the White House Rose Garden last week, to explain why he was asking the Congress to end $4 billion in tax deductions to oil companies. "I think it's time they got by without more help from taxpayers who are already having a tough enough time paying the bills and filling up their gas tank," the president said. "And I think it's curious that some folks in Congress, who are the first to belittle investments in new sources of energy, are the ones that are fighting the hardest to maintain these giveaways for the oil companies."
Rising to the podium in the senate, Sen. Rand Paul spoke in opposition to S.2204—President Obama’s bill that would force tax hikes on oil companies (and in turn, likely increase gas prices for consumers)—and reminded his colleagues of a simple economic reality: “Any of you who have a business know that when you raise taxes on a business, it's simply a cost to doing business. When your costs increase from making your product, what do you do? You charge your consumer more.”
To the persistent administration claim that oil companies do not pay their “fair share” of taxes, Sen. Paul responded that America’s oil companies actually pay $86 million a day in taxes; and the oil companies in the last 10 years have paid over $100 billion in taxes. He also mentioned that these companies employ 9.2 million people, and represent 8 percent of our Gross Domestic Product.
As to the question of “tax fairness,” the senator stated that the rich in our society pay the vast majority of our taxes. People earning over $200,000 pay 70 percent of the income tax, and those who make over $70,000 pay about 96 percent of the income tax. And 47 percent of our public don't pay an income tax at all. He characterized people who say that the rich are not paying their “fair share” as trying to use envy and class warfare to get the public stirred up, “…but it makes absolutely no sense. We as a society need to glorify those who make a profit and those who employ people.”
Sen. Paul discussed the cronyism involved in the $500 million in taxpayer funds that went to the (now bankrupt) Solyndra solar energy company. “What we have is crony capitalism, or crony governmentalism, where the government is picking out their friends and giving money to their friends,” said the senator. “And so we come here today to raise taxes on big oil. Meanwhile we're giving money to millionaires and billionaires, and it doesn't seem right that your tax dollars should be sent to companies simply because they were big contributors.”
A particular Obama boondoggle provoking Sen. Paul’s ire, was the $500 million given to Fisker Karma: An automobile company supposed to be making an electric car in the United States. “Guess where they're making it?” asked Paul, “In Finland.”
Sen. Paul then proposed two amendments to President Obama’s oil company tax-hike bill: “One amendment to this bill would say, look, if you think that some companies are getting unfair deductions, let's get rid of all deductions. Let's just have a flat tax. Let's make the corporate income tax 17 percent; currently its 35 percent.” He reminded his colleagues that Canada has an income tax for their corporations of 17 percent, and most of Europe is in the low 20's. “And we're at 35 percent,” he said.
His second amendment to Obama’s tax increase bill was even more pointed: “I have a second amendment to this bill that would take all of this money, all of these loans that they're giving to their buddies, the Solyndra loans, the Fisker Karma loans, the First Solar loans, all of this money that is being dispensed to people who are large contributors of the President; we would take that loan program and eliminate it. When we eliminate that loan program, we would save nearly $30 billion.”
“So let's take it from an area where it is prone to corruption and where it is prone to a conflict of interest, these alternative-energy loans that seem to be going mostly to the President's friends and political campaign contributors,” said Sen. Paul. “Let's take that money and put it to repair the bridges and to pay down the debt.”
Sen. Paul suggested to his constituents—and all Americans—that when they go to the gas pump and find they are paying more every day for gasoline, they need to realize where the responsibility lies. “The responsibility lies with those who are running up the debt. And as we pay for the debt, we print new money. Your gas prices rising means the value of your dollar is shrinking. That's why your prices are rising. You need to realize who is to blame for your gas prices,” said the senator.
Concluding, Sen. Paul suggested that the Democrats should retitle their bill: “The bill to raise your gas prices." The president’s proposal failed in the senate.
Sen. Rand Paul Introduces Amendments to Lower Gas Prices - 03/27/12
Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions). The Arena is read by more people in Louisville than in any other city in America. Photo credits: Fisker Karma, Solyndra, peoplescube.com, WikiMedia, creativecommons.com. This article was written entirely from recycled electrons.