House Speaker John A. Boehner said Monday that Congress should "take a look at" repealing the multibillion-dollar tax subsidies enjoyed by the major oil companies.
The Ohio Republican told "ABC World News" that the government is low on revenues and that oil companies "ought to be paying their fair share." A gallon of gasoline exceeds $4 in some parts of the country, including the Buffalo area.
"We certainly ought to take a look at it," Boehner said. "We're at a time when the federal government's short on revenues. We need to control spending, but we need to have revenues to keep the government moving."
Big oil companies, for example, don't need the so-called oil depletion allowance, but taking it away from smaller producers would mean even less domestically produced oil, Boehner said.
The allowance provides producers a tax deduction comparable to the break given to manufacturers for depreciation of the value of an investment in plants and equipment.
The remarks by Boehner, the most powerful Republican in Washington, could signal a significant change of heart. Republicans have blocked attempts by Democrats to curb oil company subsidies.
Boehner, however, did not endorse the idea.
"I want to see the facts. I don't want to hear a bunch of political rhetoric," Boehner said. "I want to know what impact this is going to have on job creation here in America."
Cutting tax breaks for oil companies also could be part of any effort to overhaul the extraordinarily complicated federal tax code.
Any tax reform effort would curb tax breaks in exchange for lowering personal and corporate income tax rates.
Boehner also said again that any move this year to raise the federal government's ability to borrow money to meets its obligations must be accompanied by significant cuts in spending.