Obama challenges lawmakers to support cuts to oil subsidies

“I think what's different now is that everybody says they're really serious about the deficit,” he said at a White House press conference Tuesday

The oil industry doesn’t need the tax breaks, Obama argued, reviving comments from his State of the Union address.

“We shouldn't provide special treatment to the oil industry when they have been making huge profits and they can afford to invest in their companies without special tax breaks,” he said.

The proposal to eliminate the oil industry's tax breaks has become a core part of Democrats' messaging battle in recent weeks. If Republicans are serious about cutting spending, Democrats argue, they should support the proposal.

The Department of Energy estimates that such a repeal will save $3.6 billion in fiscal year 2012 and a total of $46.2 billion during the next decade.