Obama Makes Indy Gas Station Appearance
Published in CSP Daily News
Clinton challenges opponent on gas tax holiday
INDIANAPOLIS -- Democrat Barack Obama last Friday blamed high gasoline prices on Washington and a political establishment, including his rivals for the presidency, that he said has not stood up to oil companies, said the Associated Press (see related story featured in this issue of CSP Daily News).
"The candidates with the Washington experience—my opponents—are good people. They mean well, but they've been in Washington for a long time and even with all that experience they talk about, nothing has happened," Obama said at a local Phillips 66 gas station, Joe's Junction. "This [image-nocss] country didn't raise fuel efficiency standards for over 30 years."
The result, the Illinois senator said, is that consumers are suffering. "So what have we got to show for all that experience?" Obama asked. "Gas that's approaching $4 a gallon."
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who is challenging him for the Democratic presidential nomination, derided his promise to take on special interests. "When it came time to stand up against the oil companies, to stand against Dick Cheney's energy bill, my opponent voted for it and I voted against it," the New York senator said at a rally at Indiana University in Bloomington. "And that bill had billions of dollars in giveaways to the oil companies. It was the best bill that the energy companies could buy."
The 2005 energy bill actually raised taxes on the oil and gas industry by about $300 million over 11 years, according to AP, citing the Congressional Research Service.
Clinton also criticized Obama campaign ads that say he does not take money from oil companies or their political action committees. Obama has accepted money from oil company executives and employees. But so has Clinton.
"I know that my opponent has run ads claiming that he does not take money from oil companies," Clinton said. "Well, no one does. It's illegal. It's been illegal for 100 years to take money from oil companies."
In his remarks, Obama said soaring gas prices were the latest manifestation of a Washington establishment that won't tackle the problems facing most consumers, and that he would bring needed change. "In the end, we'll only ease the burden of gas prices on our families when Hoosiers and people all across America say 'enough,'" Obama said. "It's time to free ourselves from the tyranny of oil and stop funding both sides in the war on terror."
Campaigning in the heart of the Farm Belt, he paid the requisite nod to ethanol. "I've been a strong supporter of ethanol," Obama said, noting that demand for the corn used to make ethanol is driving up food prices. "Corn-based ethanol is a transitional technology."
Obama returned to the theme later in the day in Kokomo, Ind. "What are you paying for gas right now?" Obama asked the crowd. "We've been talking about energy independence since the 1970s, since I was a kid." He said the issue cries out for the fundamental new direction he offers.
"Weve got to change the special interests who have dominated Washington if we're going to change our energy policy," said Obama.
Obama's speech came after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whom Obama hopes to challenge in the fall, proposed suspending the federal gasoline tax for the summer driving season. Clinton supports the idea; Obama does not. Republican critics have noted Obama's vote for a temporary break on gasoline taxes when he was a member of the Illinois Legislature.
"Barack Obama can't deliver for working people if he supports higher gas taxes when the price of fuel is at a record high, and is likely to get higher by summertime," said McCain campaign spokesperson Tucker Bounds.
Republican Party official and McCain adviser Carly Fiorina disputed Obama's argument that the average motorist would benefit little from a suspension of the gasoline tax. "I think it demonstrates that he doesn't understand what hardworking Americans are going through," she told reporters.
In the speech, Obama called for a windfall profits tax on oil companies, with the money used to help consumers pay utility bills. He also said middle-class tax breaks he has proposed would help families with energy costs.
"But the truth is, there is no easy answer to our energy crisis—and we need a president who is going to be straight with us about that," Obama said, a reference to his oft-stated contention that Clinton has not been upfront with voters.
"My opponent, Senator Obama, opposes giving consumers a break," Clinton said, campaigning in North Carolina on Monday. "I understand the American people need some relief."
Clinton said she would make up the difference in revenue by imposing a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies. "If we suspended it and made up the lost revenues, that's the best of both worlds," she said, according to AP.
Click hereto read the prepared text of Obama's comments.
Click hereto view a YouTube video of his appearance.
Click herefor "Hillary Clinton's Plan to Address Soaring Prices at the Pump."