President Biden took a swing at Big Oil Tuesday night in his State of the Union address, blaming large fossil fuel companies for the past year’s sky-high prices at the pump as they raked in record profits.
He called the hundreds of billions of dollars in record profits that oil companies brought in last year “outrageous” while calling on the industry to boost output to lower prices, despite pushing a climate agenda that seeks to curb oil and natural gas production.
“You may have noticed that Big Oil just reported record profits. Last year, they made $200 billion in the midst of a global energy crisis. It’s outrageous,” Mr. Biden said. “They invested too little of that profit to increase domestic production … and keep gas prices down. Instead, they used those record profits to buy back their own stock, rewarding their CEOs and shareholders.”
The president proposed quadrupling the tax that corporations pay for stock buybacks — from 1% to 4% — in response to oil companies sharing much of their profits with investors instead of consumers.
“Corporations ought to do the right thing. That’s why I propose that we quadruple the tax on corporate stock buybacks to encourage long-term investments instead,” he said. “They will still make a considerable profit.”
Mr. Biden’s call for more production runs counter to his environmental agenda and came just moments after he called climate change “an existential threat” while touting the Democrats’ tax-and-climate-spending law known as the Inflation Reduction Act.
The president drew laughter from the Republican side of the House chamber when he conceded that the U.S. is “still going to need oil and gas” for at least the next decade.
“Let’s face reality. The climate crisis doesn’t care if your state is red or blue. It is an existential threat,” Mr. Biden said. “We have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to confront it. I’m proud of how America is at last stepping up to the challenge … but there’s so much more to do.”
• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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