CNN's Velshi: Oil companies 'getting off free'

     CNN Business Correspondent Ali Velshi criticized both Republicans and oil companies in his reporting about the energy debate on Capitol Hill.


     Velshi claimed the GOP wasn’t using a “sound argument” to fight against a major new tax. Of course, he wasn’t citing their argument at all. And, for good measure, he claimed oil companies were “getting off free” by not paying even more than the $48 billion in taxes they already pay.


     On the Hill, Senate Republicans blocked efforts to include $32 billion in tax breaks for renewable energy that would have been paid for by new taxes on major oil companies in their energy legislation passed on June 21. But that’s not how Velshi characterized it.


     “Republicans said if you tax the oil companies, they’ll leave America,” said Velshi on the June 22 “American Morning.” “It’s not a particularly sound argument, but it’s one that used all the time.”


     But, Republicans didn’t exactly say that. They argued taxes on the oil industry and might cause oil companies to reduce investment in new oil refineries and production, resulting in higher gas prices. “It's very easy politically to stick it to the big boys and that's the political game that's being played out on the floor of the United States Senate,” said Sen. Larry Craig (R.-Idaho) to the Washington Post.

     Senate Republicans also said higher taxes would hurt consumers in the long run.  "When you put a tax on a business it gets passed on to consumers," said Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) to the Associated Press. "Instead of reducing gasoline prices, this bill is going to add to the cost of gasoline."

     Velshi also told viewers oil companies were being spared because alternative fuel sources were not being funded at their expense. “So once again, the oil companies are getting off free and alternative fuels are not being promoted in the United States.”


     According to the latest numbers from the American Petroleum Institute, oil and natural gas companies paid an estimated $48.36 billion in income taxes in 2004, the most recent available totals. In addition, these companies collected over $45 billion in excise taxes in 2004 on behalf of the IRS. That’s not “getting off free” by any stretch of the imagination.


     This isn’t the first time Velshi and CNN have had a very opinionated tone about the oil and gas industry in the name of alternative energy. In April, CNN’s “On the Money,” hosted by Velshi, made the case for a tax that would push the price of gas to $4 a gallon.