House Republicans fight to preserve $5 billion in oil industry tax breaks

In public, prominent Republicans are chastising oil companies over high gas prices, and threatening price-gouging investigations and windfall-profit taxes. Behind closed doors, House Republicans are fighting to protect some $5 billion worth of tax loopholes for those very same oil companies. Luckily for them, the country’s Strategic Outrage Reserve has been completely tapped. At issue is a tax bill designed mainly to extend the tax cuts for the rich passed in Bush’s first term. The Senate version includes changes in arcane tax accounting rules, among them rules that allow oil companies to grossly underestimate the value of their inventories. House Republicans are furiously fighting the changes, with backing from the White House. In February, Treasury Secretary John Snow sent letters to Congress stating that “the president’s senior advisors would recommend that the president veto the legislation if this provision remains.” After all, populist-friendly rhetoric is one thing, but we’re talking about real money here!