Sen. Paul Addresses Rising Gas Prices in Floor Speech
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor to address S.2204, a bill that would force tax hikes on oil companies - and in turn, likely increase gas prices for consumers. Below is a transcript and video of his speech.
I rise today to discuss gas prices. Gas prices have doubled under this President, so today this body will consider new legislation which the other side, I assume thinks will make the situation better. But the other side's solution is to raise taxes on oil companies, raise taxes by $25 billion.
Any of you who have a business know that when you raise taxes on a business, it's simply a cost to doing business. When your costs increase from making your product, what do you do? You charge your consumer more.
So I'm not sure what person is advising the other side, but I don't quite understand how raising $25 billion worth of cost on the oil industry is going to help gas prices. In fact, I think it's going to send gas prices even higher.
Now some on the other side say this is a matter of fairness. Everybody needs to pay their fair share. Well, oil companies actually pay $86 million a day in taxes. The oil companies in the last 10 years have paid over $100 billion in taxes.
The people who say we just must punish them. They're making too much money, let's punish them. The oil companies employ 9.2 million people. They're 8 percent of our GDP. Do we want to punish the people who are creating jobs, the people who are trying to make us energy-independent in our country? It makes absolutely no sense.
Now some will argue we need to make the tax code fair and the oil companies have special exemptions. Guess what? These exemptions and business deductions apply to other businesses, but they just want to take them away from one of our successful industries.
Now it seems to me if an industry is successful and creates 9.2 million jobs, instead of punishing them; you should want to encourage them. I would think you'd want to say to the oil companies, 'What obstacles are there to you making more money and hiring more people?' Instead they say, 'No, we must punish them. We must tax them more make things.'
The thing is this whole thing about fairness is so misguided and gotten out of hand. The rich in our society do pay the vast majority of our taxes. Do not let them tell you kwroer wise. Those who make over $200,000 pay 70 percent of the income tax. Those who make over $70,000 pay about 96 percent of the income tax; 47 percent of our public don't pay an income.
So those who are saying the rich are not paying their fair share are trying to use envy and class warfare to get you stirred up, but it makes absolutely no sense. We as a society need to glorify those who make a profit and those who employ people.
We need to encourage more business in this country, and the oil company employs 9.2 million people. We don't need to heap punishment on them. We need to give them encouragement to employ more people. I will have two amendments to this bill that I think will actually make it better.
While the President talks about people not paying their fair share, he's actually giving more than their fair share to his friends. I don't think the government should be used as a loan agency to give money to your contributors. This is unseemly. The conflict of interest is, I think, undeniable.
We have companies like Solyndra. This is a company that received $500 million of your money and went bankrupt. Just so happens that the owner of the company is the 20th-richest man of the United States and a big donor of the President. It just so happens that this company, Solyndra, the person who approved their loan was related, was the husband of a woman who worked for Solyndra.
Another company, a company called bright source out of Massachusetts, is owned by one of the Kennedy family. They got $1.8 billion, and guess who approved their loan? A guy that used to work for the Kennedys who is now in president Obama's administration. It doesn't pass the smell test.
What we have is crony capitalism, or crony governmentalism, where the government is picking out their friends and giving money to their friends. And so we come here today to raise taxes on big oil. Meanwhile we're giving money to millionaires and billionaires, and it doesn't seem right that your tax dollars should be sent to companies simply because they were big contributors.
Another company, Fisker Karma got $500 million supposedly to make an electric car in in the United States. Guess where they're making it? In Finland.
We sent money to Solyndra through international banks, through the Ex-Im banks. We sent money to First Solar through the Ex-Im bank. You have known what their money was for?
Given to them so they could buy their own product. The company bought a subsidiary in Canada. We gave money to the company in the United States and let them buy their own product with your money. It makes absolutely no sense.
So I have two proposals. One amendment to this bill would say, look, if you think that some companies are getting unfair deductions, let's get rid of all deductions. Let's just have a flat tax. Let's make the corporate income tax 17 percent; currently its 35 percent.
See if you want to encourage business, you want to encourage employment, you lower taxes. You don't raise taxes. Canada has an income tax for their corporations of 17 percent. Most of Europe is in the low 20's. And we're at 35 percent.
We wonder why we can't get business started in this country. We wonder why there is billions; even trillions of dollars left overseas that won't come home because we want to charge them 35 percent tax when it comes home.
Our bill would also say if you've already paid taxes overseas once, you don't have to pay again when you come home. So a 17 percent flat tax, you would see a boom in this country like you haven't seen in a generation. You would see millions of jobs being created if we would just learn the basic facts of economics.
If you punish a company, you'll have fewer jobs. If you encourage a company by giving them more tax breaks, you'll have more jobs. Taxes are a cost.
If this bill passes, not only will your gas prices continue to rise -- they have already doubled -- but you'll see your gas prices going through the roof. But then again, there are people in this administration that don't even drive a car. They don't understand the price of gas because they don't have to drive a car. Someone picks them up in a limousine.
The thing is they need to go to the pump. They need to see how much we're spending on gas. They need to see what they're doing to this country and what they're doing to the job market.
I have a second amendment to this bill that would take all of this money, all of these loans that they're giving to their buddies, the Solyndra loans, the Fisker Karma loans, the First Solar loans, all of this money that is being dispensed to people who are large contributors of the President; we would take that loan program and eliminate it.
When we eliminate that loan program, we would save nearly $30 billion. The GAO has said as much as $6 billion is at risk for loss now. If we were to eliminate that money, we could put half towards the debt and then put half towards rebuilding our infrastructure.
The President says he wants to rebuild our bridges. He came to our state and I stood on a bridge with him and said I would help. The way you help is by not passing out dollars to your friends that are being lost by the billions of dollars. You can't simply create the money. Let's find the money.
So I propose to end the department of energy loans and take that money, put half of it against the debt and put half of that into repairing and replacing our bridges. This is how government should work. You should pick priorities. There is not an unlimited amount of money.
So let's take it from an area where it is prone to corruption and where it is prone to a conflict of interest, these alternative-energy loans that seem to be going mostly to the President's friends and political campaign contributors. Let's take that money and put it to repair the bridges and to pay down the debt.
This is what responsible government should do. But what we are doing in this body, what will happen in the next 24 hours as we discuss this bill is -- and everybody in America needs to be very clear about this.
When you go to the gas pump and you pay more every day for gasoline, you need to realize where the responsibility lies. The responsibility lies with those who are running up the debt. And as we pay for the debt, we print new money. Your gas prices rising means the value of your dollar is shrinking. That's why your prices are rising. You need to realize who is to blame for your gas prices.
It is those who are running up the debt. But you also have to realize that it's even worse than that. It's not just the running up of the debt. You have to realize that these people today now want to add $25 billion to the gas prices.
That's what happens. When you raise the taxes of the oil companies, you will add $25 billion in taxes, but you will increase their cost by $25 billion and businesses that sell products simply pass that on to the consumer.
So what we'll hear about, and they should retitle their bill; we are willing to by this legislation increase gas prices. It should be called "the bill to raise your gas prices."
So what I would ask this body to do is to consider two amendments that would actually lower the debt and take money away from crony capitalism and another one that would reform the tax code to eliminate deductions and discrepancies within the tax code but to do it by lowering the tax rate, flattening the tax rate and allowing business to succeed in our country
It gets down to who do you want to represent you in Washington; do you want a party that basically wants to punish business, those that are creating jobs? Or do you want a party that wants to encourage business?
We're in the midst of a great recession. Until we understand this fundamental fact, we're not going to recover as a nation. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield back the remainder of my time.