Boehner opens door to ending tax breaks for big oil companies

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) opened the door Monday to ending some tax breaks for large oil-and-gas producers that Democrats have long sought to eliminate. 

Boehner said he thought Congress should look at ending the tax credits for some of the larger companies, though the Speaker suggested the allowances made sense for smaller, independent companies.

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"I don't think the big oil companies need to have the oil depletion allowances, but for small, independent oil-and-gas producers, if they didn't have this, there'd be even less exploration in America than there is today," Boehner said in an interview with ABC News.

Democrats in the Senate have sought to end many of these subsidies now for months, in part to help fund some of their spending priorities, and in part to use Republicans' refusal so far to eliminate the tax breaks as a political cudgel against the GOP.

Those tax breaks have become even hotter politically as gas prices have skyrocketed this spring, making oil companies less sympathetic figures to voters feeling the pain at the pump.

Boehner said the companies share some of the blame for the increased prices, which have in turn driven record profits for the oil companies.

"Everybody wants to go after the oil companies, and frankly, they've got some part of this to blame," the Speaker said. "But they've got to do everything they can to help us produce oil and gas at a lower price."

In terms of the tax credits, Boehner said he disagreed that the credits were "special benefits," but acknowledged that with the country's massive budget shortfall, Congress should keep all options should be on the table.

"It certainly is something we ought to be looking at. We're in a time when the federal government's short on revenues," Boehner said. "We need to control spending, but we need to have revenues to keep the government moving. And they ought to be paying their fair share."


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