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Weekly remarks: GOP's Martha Roby wants more domestic energy; Obama decries subsidies for Big Oil

Obama talks about Budget 4-7-11

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

Recently, there have been signs that the economy is picking up steam. Last month, we saw the strongest job growth in five years, and have added more than three-quarters of a million private sector jobs in just three months. But there are still too many Americans who are either looking for work, or struggling to pay the bills and make the mortgage.  Paychecks aren’t getting any bigger, but the cost of everything from groceries to college tuition keeps on rising. 

Without a doubt, one of the biggest burdens over the last few months has been the price of gasoline. In many places, gas is now more than $4 a gallon, meaning that you could be paying more than $60 to fill up your tank.

These spikes in gas prices are often temporary, and while there are no quick fixes to the problem, there are a few steps we should take that make good sense.

First, we should make sure that no one is taking advantage of consumers at the pump. That’s....

...why we’ve launched a task force led by the attorney general that has one job: rooting out cases of fraud or manipulation in the markets that might affect gas prices, including any illegal activity by traders and speculators. 

Second, we should increase safe and responsible oil production here at home. Last year, America’s oil production reached its highest level since 2003. But I believe that we should expand oil production in America –- even as we increase safety and environmental standards. 

To do this, I am directing the Department of Interior to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, while respecting sensitive areas, and to speed up the evaluation of oil and gas resources in the mid- and south Atlantic.  We plan to lease new areas in the Gulf of Mexico as well, and work to create new incentives for industry to develop their unused leases both on and offshore.

We’re also taking steps to give companies time to meet higher safety standards when it comes to exploration and drilling.  That’s why my administration is extending drilling leases in areas of the gulf that were impacted by the temporary moratorium, as well as certain areas off the coast of Alaska. And to streamline that permitting process, I am establishing a new team to coordinate work on Alaska drilling permits.

Finally, the third step we should take is to eliminate the taxpayer subsidies we give to oil and gas companies. In the last few months, the biggest oil companies made about $4 billion in profits each week. And yet, they get $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies each year.  Four billion dollars at a time when Americans can barely fill up their tanks.  Four billion dollars at a time when we’re trying to reduce our deficit. 

This isn’t fair, it makes no sense. Before I was president, the CEOs of these companies even admitted that the tax subsidies made no sense.  Well, next week, there is a vote in Congress to end these oil company giveaways once and for all.  And I hope Democrats and Republicans come together and get this done. 

The American people shouldn’t be subsidizing oil companies at a time when they’re making near-record profits. As a nation, we should be investing in the clean, renewable sources of energy that are the ultimate solution to high gas prices. That’s why we’re investing in clean energy technology, helping businesses that manufacture solar panels and wind turbines, and making sure that our cars and trucks can go further on a tank of gas -– a step that could save families as much as $3,000 at the pump.

These are investments worth making -– investments that will save us money, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and protect the health and safety of our planet. That’s an energy policy for the future, and it’s what I’ll be fighting for in the weeks and months to come. Thanks.    ####

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

Weekly remarks by Rep. Martha Roby, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hello, I’m Representative Martha Roby.  It is a great honor to speak to you today about the challenges our country faces.  

I do so, not only as the representative of Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, but also as a mother concerned about the future for my kids, and yours. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve gone to the grocery store and found myself in a conversation about the price of gas, the cost of going to the doctor, or about how hard it is to get a business going and keep jobs in our area. 

The sad conclusion of these conversations is that Washington is a part of the problem. It is failing to promote policies that will put our economy on a path to prosperity.

The price of gas is a good example, and a timely one too. Year after year, politicians in Washington talk about steps to ease the pain at the pump, but they never act. It hit home this spring when the president promoted Brazilian-made energy in Brazil while his administration keeps our resources here at home under lock and key. 

I am pleased to report the House has passed several measures designed to expand domestic energy production to help address the soaring gas prices. This is also important because when we’re talking about energy, we’re talking about jobs.  The cost of energy is directly related to the cost of hiring workers and running a business.  

The cost of government is also hurting our economy.  Washington’s failure to enact policies that promote long-term economic growth and balance the budget is creating uncertainty for employers and consumers alike.

For years now, Washington has kicked the can down the road without facing up to its spending addiction. Not anymore.  The big spenders have been put on notice and are on retreat.
Alabama Republican representative Martha Roby
The American people reject the idea of giving Washington a blank check to increase the debt limit. The House is listening.  Republicans have made clear that there will be no increase in the national debt limit, unless it is accompanied by significant spending reforms that truly change the culture of spending in Washington.

To get there, everything should be on the table –- everything, that is, except tax increases. We cannot tax the same people we expect to create jobs. That is a recipe for keeping people out of work. The threat of tax hikes -- along with the torrent of rules and regulations coming out of Washington - has employers sitting on their hands at the worst possible time.

The Republican budget put forward by Chairman Paul Ryan ends the threat of job-crushing tax hikes. It also preserves critical programs like Medicare.  Because, again, the greatest threat is doing nothing. If we do nothing, Medicare will simply run out of money. Without action, seniors’ benefits will be cut. Under Chairman Ryan’s plan, seniors 55 and older would not be affected in any way. That is an important point. For those of us under 55, we must take steps to ensure Medicare will still be around when we retire. 

“It is time for Washington to get serious about the challenges that face our country. This includes putting our fiscal house in order and addressing the soaring gas prices.  The greatest threat to our economy, job creation, and the future of our children is to do nothing.  We have to act.  It is what we were sent to Washington to do.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to thank all Americans for the overwhelming support and especially the prayers you have sent to the people of Alabama in the wake of last month’s devastating tornadoes. We have needed them. As have the people of Tennessee and all those along the Mississippi dealing with terrible flooding.

It is heartbreaking to see our friends and neighbors go through tough times. But, as always, the people of our state are coming together to lend a helping hand to do what needs to be done.

I am proud to represent people who care so deeply about their communities. Their perseverance and strength only motivates me more as their representative in Congress. I owe it to them not to let this critical moment pass without acting to ensure the American Dream is alive and well for our children and grandchildren. If everyone in Washington felt the same way, we could accomplish a great deal more. Thank you for listening.    ####

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

 
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It would take several years for any new drilling site to begin producing. What about the leases the oil companies have that don't have oil rigs on them? Why aren't they being used? $35 BILLION & they can't fork over one percent. They aren't American. Neither are the clowns who back this. No wonder this country can't pay their bills.

Answer this question for me. How is it that a third world country, such as Brazil, can develop their own alternative fuel (from sugar cane) and have nearly their entire car driving population completely independent of oil, while the U.S. (the most technologically advanced country in the world) has not been able to even get a small percentage of it's population off of gasoline?


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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