Senate Energy Tax Proposal Tone-Deaf to America’s Needs

My home town, Milton, was home to our nation’s first piano factory long before my time. And while I have enjoyed music throughout my life, it pains me to hear how out of the tune some in the U.S. Senate are when it comes to America’s energy policy and the nature of our global economy.

A case in point is a vote tonight in Washington on Senate Bill 940, seeking to raise taxes on our oil sector. The senators pushing this proposal may think they’re targeting the conductor, but it would ultimately hurt the band members.    

Prominent economist Mark J. Perry has pointed out that it’s people, not corporations, that ultimately pay taxes. Among other things, higher taxes on the U.S. oil industry translate into lower wages, fewer jobs and lower returns for tens of millions of investors (e.g., mutual funds, employee pensions, IRAs, school endowments, etc.).

Gasoline prices statewide right now average $3.97, and politicians are feeling the heat. It’s sad to think, though, that the best some Members of Congress can come up with to address price increases of a globally-traded commodity is to scapegoat our domestic producers.

As my friend Bill O’Keefe pointed out today, “proponents of [this] Senate legislation are simply engaging in cheap populism.” Instead of marching to this misinformed beat, senators tonight would be well-served to remember that raising taxes on domestic energy companies will not lower motor fuel prices; in fact it will make energy even more expensive. Such a short-sighted policy proposal certainly does not address the need for much-needed tax reform either. I hope Sen. Brown agrees and votes nay on S. 940.

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