Opinion Columns & Blogs

Wink Hartman: U.S. needs more oil, not more tax increases

With gas prices rising, American voters are understandably looking for a culprit. Predictably, the Obama administration has turned its focus toward energy producers of all stripes, calling for immediate removal of tax credits.

Some inside the administration are even proposing the elimination of all tax credits for producers of all types of energy. This reaction is not only knee-jerk, it's bad policy.

First, removal of tax credits for energy companies will not only hurt the intended political scapegoats — large oil companies — but will also hit small energy companies, too, including the dozens of Kansas oil producers fighting hard to find much-needed additional oil reserves and compete with the larger oil companies for their survival.

Second, it's important to understand that these large oil companies don't pay the majority of the taxes; they simply collect them from consumers. The additional tax burden will not be felt by big oil companies; it simply will be passed along to every car-driving American, further driving up gas prices.

Finally, in this time of economic uncertainty, it's important that the government do everything it can to create an environment for new job creation. Eliminating tax credits for small business at this time will not only raise prices at the pump, it will kill job creation.

I encourage our Kansas congressional delegation to fight the Obama administration's repeated attempts to punish our Kansas oil producers. In this time of economic uncertainty, let's work hard to lower the tax burden on small businesses — not raise it.

If we want to lower prices at the pump, create Kansas jobs and allow energy companies to be a major source of funding for dozens of Kansas counties in the future, Congress should think long and hard about any tax changes for energy companies.

Unfortunately, President Obama has shown time and time again that his administration is not friendly toward American oil producers. With that reality in mind, it's extremely important that congressional Republicans — including our Kansas delegation — approach this issue with a unified voice in support of American oil and in opposition to the president's punitive tax hikes.

As I've said many times in the past, the best way to reduce energy prices is, quite simply, for Congress to get the heck out of the way. If Washington, D.C., would remove barriers for domestic exploration rather than create new ones, we would not only drastically reduce the price of oil, we could finally achieve the long-standing goal of American energy independence.