Democrats propose fuel tax breaks for consumers

| 4/26/2006

In an effort to provide consumers relief from rising fuel prices, a group of Democratic senators has proposed temporarily suspending federal gasoline and diesel taxes. They also want to repeal tax breaks given to oil companies.

Sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, the legislation would be an amendment to the 2006 fiscal year emergency supplemental spending bill.

According to a press release from Menendez issued Tuesday, April 25, the amendment would suspend the federal taxes on gasoline and diesel for 60 days and would provide an estimated $100 million in tax relief. It also calls for the repeal of tax incentives given to the oil and gas industries.

The repeal of oil company tax breaks will replace the revenue from fuel taxes, which goes to the Highway Trust Fund. The amendment also calls for eliminating oil company royalty relief and other production incentives that were part of the 2005 Energy Bill.

“Last year, the big oil companies hiked gas prices and blamed an act of God,” Menendez said. “But it’s crystal clear that the current spike in gas prices is at least partly due to an act of greed.”

President Bush also called for repealing some of the tax breaks to the oil companies in a speech on Tuesday, April 25. His approach, however, favors a gradual repeal over 10 years, whereas Menendez is pushing for an immediate repeal.

Menendez said in the release that he was glad the president finally concluded that oil companies don’t need huge tax breaks.

“What we’re left wondering today is why it took President Bush over five years in office to realize this,” Menendez said in his release following the president’s comments.