House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told ABC News on Monday that he would be open to reevaluating billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies that have enjoyed strong support from the GOP.
“It’s certainly something we should be looking at,” Boehner said. “We’re in a time when the federal government’s short on revenues. They ought to be paying their fair share.”
Democrats have relentlessly attacked Republicans in recent months for supporting tax breaks and subsidies aimed at oil companies, contrasting the corporate aid with GOP proposals to drastically reduce long-term funding for Medicare and Medicaid. Boehner’s small — but significant — step back from the traditional Republican position is a clear indicator that he senses political vulnerability as gas prices soar.
In addition to his new line on subsidies, Boehner went out of his way to take a dig at oil companies’ profits in the interview.
“Everybody wants to go after the oil companies and, frankly, they’ve got some part of this to blame,” he said, discussing rising oil prices.
Boehner cautioned that he wasn’t ready to abandon support for subsidies just yet, saying he wanted to make sure he first studied “what impact this is going have on job creation here in America.”
The party has taken hits for its oil-friendly outlook in the past — during the BP spill, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) memorably apologized to BP for their treatment by the White House. The statement drew condemnations from GOP leaders and Barton was not granted a waiver to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee after the Republicans retook the House.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.