POLITICS

Barack Obama demands Congress end oil, gas subsidies

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Last year, a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service that was getting renewed attention on Thursday concluded that Obama's oil and gas proposals "may have the effect of decreasing exploration, development, and production, while increasing prices and increasing the nation's foreign oil dependence."

It also said such an impact would likely be on "a small scale."

Criticized by Republicans for taking too much credit for increasing oil production at home, Obama made sure to credit both his administration and that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, without mentioning Bush by name.

The move seemed intended on stripping away that line of criticism from his opposition.

Obama's insistence on a congressional vote on the oil and gas subsidies came a day after he and House and Senate leaders held a luncheon meeting at the White House that House Speaker John Boehner described as encouraging and hopeful.

But on Thursday, Republican presidential contenders and GOP leaders in Congress denounced the idea and called on Obama to take further steps to expand oil production in the United States.

"If someone in the administration can show me that raising taxes on American energy production will lower gas prices and create jobs, then I will gladly discuss it.

But since nobody can, and the president doesn't, this is merely an attempt to deflect from his failed policies," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney shot back that oil companies are making big profits and "it doesn't make sense for the taxpayer to cushion their already very robust bottom line."

Obama went further than he has in the past in describing how the global standoff with Iran is driving up the cost of gasoline.

"The biggest thing that's causing the price of oil to rise right now is instability in the Middle East - this time it's Iran," Obama said. "A lot of folks are nervous about what might happen there, so they are anticipating there might be a big disruption in terms of flow."

Obama has previously identified tension with Iran as a main reason for rising oil prices, but this time he ad-libbed the remark about how the prospect of a reduction in the supply of oil is making the markets nervous.

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