President-elect Barack Obama has backed away from a campaign promise to levy a windfall profits tax on big oil.
Obama spoke about a windfall profits tax as early as April. With crude oil prices topping $110 a barrel, he vowed to “put a windfall profits tax on oil companies and use it to help … families pay their heating and cooling bills and reduce energy costs,” The Foundation for National Progress noted.
Then in August, he ran a campaign ad that promised “a windfall profits tax on big oil to give families a thousand-dollar rebate.”
The plan was outlined in a version of his transition Web site after his election victory. But when the site was relaunched several days after Election Day, references to the tax had been deleted.
A member of the transition team, who spoke to The Foundation on the condition of anonymity, said in an e-mail that Obama announced the tax policy “during the campaign because oil prices were above $80 a barrel. They are currently below that and expected to stay below that.”
But Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League — which first called attention to the deletion — said lower oil prices do not justify the policy change.
“The oil and gas companies are clearly making excess profits,” he said. “The excessive profits tax is based on the excessive profits they’ve made in the last eight years.”
The Foundation pointed out that on Oct. 30, ExxonMobil reported quarterly earnings of $14.83 billion — a new national record for quarterly profits.
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