‘Lopsided’ House bill would tax oil speculators

| 7/30/2009

A bill filed in the U.S. House would tax speculative oil traders and use the money to fund transportation.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, even lent a catchy name to his bill, HR3379, calling it “Lowering Oil Price Speculation for Infrastructure Dedicated to Economic Development” – LOPSIDED.

DeFazio issued a statement saying a transaction tax on crude oil securities will lower the price of oil while providing crucial funds for infrastructure and transportation reform.

“Furthermore, it will crack down on oil speculators who are driving up the price of oil and causing massive volatility in the market. … My legislation will not cost consumers one cent. It is a minuscule percentage on transactions by oil speculators, and it will allow us to substantially increase our investment in our transportation infrastructure so we can move beyond the broken policies of the past toward a safer, cleaner more efficient transportation system for the 21st century.”

DeFazio collected 28 original cosponsors for the bill. He believes a 0.2 percent tax on oil futures transactions could raise $190 billion in six years to help fund a proposed $450 billion authorization bill currently being considered in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Other funding mechanisms for the authorization bill are being worked out by House and Senate lawmakers. Funding suggestions have included such things as increasing fuel taxes and highway user fees to using tolls and congestion pricing. A pair of federal commissions has recommended increasing the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax and creating a new freight tax. The idea of taxing vehicle miles traveled instead of gallons of fuel consumed has intrigued some but has not advanced at this point.

– By David Tanner, staff writer