-- President Barack Obama
will propose a $10
fee on every barrel of domestic oil to pay for improvements in the nation's transportation system, a top White House
aide said Thursday.
The fee, which would be phased in over five years and charged to oil companies, will be part of the president's budget sent to Congress on Tuesday, economic adviser Jeff Zients told reporters.
Congressional Republicans immediately declared the proposal dead.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-
, said, "Frankly, I'm unsure why the president bothers to continue to send a budget to Congress
. He never submits one which balances and even his own party members have not only voted against it but voted against it unanimously. His proposals are not serious, and this is another one which is dead on arrival."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-
, called the proposal "the latest in a series of regulatory attacks on the energy sector."
"The good news is this plan is little more than an election-year distraction. As this lame-duck president knows, it's dead on arrival in Congress."
In a telephone call with reporters, Zients could not answer repeated questions about where the tax would be levied.
"It's not at the wellhead," he said, adding that the administration would work on the details with Congress.
He said the tax would not be assessed on domestic oil being exported but would be assessed on imported oil. He could not say how much revenue it would add.
Sen. James Lankford, R-
, said, "At least the president has remained consistent. Even in his last year, he is still proposing new taxes.
"This is not only a higher tax, it is a new type of tax. Creating yet another type of gas tax would further complicate the tax code and raise prices on consumers."
About the plan
Zients said the long-term highway bill, which was co-authored by Inhofe and approved in December, was "just a down payment" on the country's transportation needs.
Congestion on the nation's roads was costing motorists and businesses time and money while polluting the air, Zients said.
"People call for more transportation funding but never talk about how they'll pay for it," he said.
According to the White House, the president's budget would invest nearly $20 billion more to expand mass transit systems in cities, suburbs and rural areas and make high-speed rail a viable alternative to flying in some corridors.
The president also wants to invest in better local transportation planning and devote more money to grants for innovative local projects.
The plan also would spend $2 billion a year "to launch a new generation of smart, clean vehicles and aircraft by expanding clean transportation research and development and launching pilot deployments of safe and climate smart autonomous vehicles," the White House said.
Zients said the goal of the plan was to reduce carbon emissions by cutting the use of fossil fuels in transportation. He said 30 percent of the carbon emitted in
the United States
was from vehicles.
Since its first budget, in 2009, the administration has called for ending most of the tax breaks available to oil and gas companies.
But Congress has never considered the tax changes, even when both houses were controlled by Democrats.
Inhofe said Thursday, "One of the only bright spots in President Obama's anemic economy has been the jobs created by the oil and natural gas production industry, which has grown despite his policies.
"Clearly I support advancing our nation's transportation system. It's vital to our economy and national security, which is why Congress overwhelmingly agreed to a bipartisan solution to increase spending for our roads and bridges over the next five years. And we did it without raising taxes on job creators."
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