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Weekly remarks: GOP's James Lankford on high gas prices; Obama has no problem with oil profits, but...

April 30, 2011 |  3:00 am

Obama talks about Budget 4-7-11

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

After the worst recession since the Great Depression, our economy is growing again, and we’ve gained almost 2 million private sector jobs over the last 13 months. But I also know that a lot of folks aren’t feeling as positive as some of those statistics might suggest. It’s still too hard to find a job. And even if you have a job, chances are you’re having a tougher time paying the rising costs of everything from groceries to gas. In some places, gas is now more than $4 a gallon, meaning that you could be paying upwards of $50 or $60 to fill up your tank.

Of course, while rising gas prices mean real pain for our families at the pump, they also mean bigger profits for oil companies. This week, the largest oil companies announced that they’d made more than $25 billion in the first few months of 2011 –- up about 30% from last year. 

Now, I don’t have a problem with any company or industry being rewarded for their success. The incentive of healthy profits is what fuels entrepreneurialism and helps drives our economy forward. But I do have a problem with....

...the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies we’ve been handing out to oil and gas companies -– to the tune of $4 billion a year. When oil companies are making huge profits and you’re struggling at the pump, and we’re scouring the federal budget for spending we can afford to do without, these tax giveaways aren’t right. They aren’t smart. And we need to end them.

That’s why, earlier this week, I renewed my call to Congress to stop subsidizing the oil and gas industries.  Understand, I’m not opposed to producing oil. I believe that if we’re serious about meeting our energy challenge, we need to operate on all cylinders, and that means pursuing a broad range of energy policies, including safe and responsible oil production here at home. In fact, last year, America’s oil production reached its highest level since 2003.

But I also believe that instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, we should invest in tomorrow’s –- and that’s what we’ve been doing. Already, we’ve seen how the investments we’re making in clean energy can lead to new jobs and new businesses. I’ve seen some of them myself –- small businesses that are making the most of solar and wind power, and energy-efficient technologies; big companies that are making fuel-efficient cars and trucks part of their vehicle fleets. And to promote these kinds of vehicles, we implemented historic new fuel-economy standards, which could save you as much as $3,000 at the pump.

Now, I know that in this tough fiscal environment, it’s tempting for some in Washington to want to cut our investments in clean energy. And I absolutely agree that the only way we’ll be able to afford the things we need is if we cut the things we don’t, and live within our means. But I refuse to cut things like clean energy that will help America win the future by growing our economy and creating good-paying jobs; that will help make America more secure; and that will help clean up our planet in the process. An investment in clean energy today is an investment in a better tomorrow. And I think that’s an investment worth making. Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.    ####

Capitol Hill as Budget Deal is announced 4-8-11

Weekly remarks by Rep. James Lankford, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hello, my name is James Lankford, and I’m a freshman member of Congress, working for the people of Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District.

When I listen to my constituents about the challenges they face, skyrocketing cost of gasoline is at the top of the list.  Prices at the pump have nearly doubled since President Obama took office, making everyday life like driving to work, buying groceries, picking up kids at school and visiting family more expensive. 

Even worse, the rising price of fuel is costing jobs and hurting our economy. Higher energy prices hit virtually every American product and industry, making it more expensive to manufacture products, more expensive to ship goods, and more expensive for farmers and ranchers. In fact, higher energy costs make everything made in the USA more expensive, and send more good-paying jobs overseas.  

Americans are looking for leadership to tackle the rising gas prices, but President Obama has only offered a tax increase on energy and the prospect of reduced supply.  For more than two years, his administration has knowingly increased energy prices by choking off new sources of traditional American energy and smothering our economy in new energy regulations.  His latest proposal -- hiking taxes by billions of dollars –- will not lower gas prices and would actually make the problem worse.

In my state, and in many other states, thousands of people depend directly on American energy production for their paychecks. The president may think he’s punishing CEOs of big companies, but his plan will hurt the everyday consumer of energy and imperil the jobs of millions of hardworking people in American-based companies. 

There is a better way. Republicans are focused on expanding all American energy production to help lower costs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create millions of American jobs. 

Next week, the House of Representatives will begin this process by passing legislation to increase the supply of American energy and create jobs. This legislation is part of our American Energy Initiative –- an ongoing effort to lower costs and allow the private sector to create more American jobs.

Quite simply, if the president chooses to punt on real long-term solutions for energy and gas prices, we will take the lead. 

Two weeks ago, I was proud to cast my vote in the House for a budget that promotes economic growth and job creation by putting us on a path to pay down our debt, and preserve Medicaid and Medicare for current retirees and future generations.  Our national debt is worse than most people realize. We must solve our budget problem, not just talk about the crisis. 

Oklahoma Republican representative James Lankford The president’s budget proposal fails to offer a credible plan that meets the nation’s challenges in a serious manner.  He considers it radical and extreme to balance the budget by doing what every American business and family does in tough times – they reduce spending.

We need to be honest with the American people. Washington should not overspend, then go to the American people and demand a tax increase because we cannot make the tough decisions. 

And, we cannot ignore the fact that tens of millions of baby boomers are beginning to retire while Medicare is already teetering at the brink of insolvency. We must stabilize, and protect Medicare and Medicaid. 

Let me be clear: The Republican plan would not affect current Medicare beneficiaries, or any American 55 or older. To address Medicare’s looming insolvency though, we put in place a plan to save Medicare for those under 55.  We want them to have access to the same kind of medical retirement options that members of Congress and all federal employees benefit from. 

The president’s proposal protects the status quo: an unsustainable system that will bankrupt Medicare and lead to future deep, painful benefit cuts for seniors, while continuing to pile trillions of dollars of obligation on the backs of future generations. 

The world is watching to see how we’ll handle our debt. Everyone wants to know if we’ll just pile up more debt with no plan to ever pay it off, or if we will find a way to permanently work on our national debt. 

The president wants us to raise the debt limit with no real reforms to stop future Washington spending binges. To let Washington borrow even more money from the Chinese and hand the bill to our kids and grandkids. This would be a stark moment in American history, when a president would intentionally declare: ‘times are tough, I think I’ll make life tougher on my kids and grandkids’ generation to make life easier on me and my generation.’

We have responded differently: The American people will not tolerate an increase in the debt limit unless it comes with meaningful steps to cut Washington spending and start working us out of debt.  No more blank checks and huge bills on our children so someone in Washington can retain power. 

On gas prices, the budget and the debt limit, we will continue to offer real solutions to lower gas prices, create jobs, and ensure the next generation still has a shot at the American dream. 

Our nation’s been through difficult times before. We can do this if we will work together to solve the problems instead of just talking about them. May God bless our families and our great nation. Thank you for listening.     ####

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Photos: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images; Alex Wong / Getty Images; Rep. Lankford's office.

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