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John Boehner gas gaffe creates opening for Democrats
The Ohio Republican left the door open to hiking taxes on oil and gas companies during a Monday night interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, saying Congress “certainly ought’ to take a look at it.” By midday Tuesday, the Democratic communications machine was pumping out an easily refined message: Agreed.
"It is almost too good to be true, but gas hitting $4 per gallon seems to have finally caused Speaker Boehner to see the light on the insanity of providing subsidies to profit-soaked Big Oil companies," New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic message maven in the Senate, said in a statement.
It's little wonder that Democrats were ready to pounce when they saw an opportunity to box Boehner into either defending oil companies or adopting Democratic-backed subsidy cuts. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill already know they face serious voter backlash if gas prices don't settle down before the 2012 election.
Obama has addressed that vulnerability in the past, and a new Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests he's right to be worried. Sixty percent of independents who are feeling pain at the pump say they definitely will not back Obama for reelection, the survey found.
As Republicans prepare a series of hearings and votes intended to put heat on Obama over gas prices during the spring and summer months, Democrats hope the Boehner slip-up will give them a more even playing field on the issue. But Democrats still haven't explained how cutting profits would lead to lower — rather than higher — prices for consumers, and there's little chance that Boehner's half-dodge of an answer will turn the tables in the president's favor if gas prices remain high.
"Everybody's entitled to have a bad day. And he had a bad day," GOP strategist Mike McKenna said of Boehner's remark.
If nothing else, it turned Tuesday into a field day for Democratic politicians.
"I was heartened that Speaker Boehner yesterday expressed openness to eliminate these tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry," the president wrote to Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Republicans, worried about losing their advantage on an issue they have been hammering away on, sought Tuesday to make clear that they're not a bit interested in eliminating the tax breaks — which they say would lead to higher gas prices because oil companies would simply pass on their higher costs to consumers paying at the pump.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53767.html#ixzz1KgM6KoGD
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