President Barack Obama. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
NBC - The Senate has defeated a move by President Obama to cut billions in tax breaks for big oil companies enjoying record high profits because of record high prices.
Pushing to end the government subsidy of Exxon, Shell, BP, Chevron and Conoco Phillips, President Obama challenged senators about to vote.
"They can stand with the big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people,"Obama said.
He said the public's being hit twice, paying record high prices at the pump and giving billions in tax breaks to producers.
"With high oil prices around the world they've got more than enough incentive to produce more oil," the president argued.
They've certainly got record profits, almost $5 million an hour for Exxon.
"The American people know that these subsidies are unnecessary. They're ineffective. And they're immoral," said Senator Frank Lautenberg.
But they're irrelevant, said Republicans, to our pain at the pump.
"Facts are stubborn things and supply and demand is what dictates price. We should be robustly exploring the natural resources of the domestic United States of America for less dependence on foreign oil," said Senator Johnny Isakson.
The Obama plan lost 51-47. Experts have warned gas prices will go higher either way.
"Unfortunately for consumers, and I think we're all of the same mind, there is little that can be done in the near term," said Frank Verrastro of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Aides say the president will keep pushing to end taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies.