A sign that the White House and Dems know they need to move aggressively to change the conversation on gas prices: The White House and Obama’s political operation is distributing a new set of talking points to outside allies and TV surrogates, instructing them.on how to discuss the increasingly volatile issue.
The talking points, sent over by a source, seize on John Boehner’s apparent suggestion on ABC News — since walked back — that he may be open to nixing subsidies for the oil industry, in order to focus ire over gas prices on oil companies and the tax breaks they continue to enjoy:
Talking Points: Protecting Americans at the Gas Station
* Our economy has started to recover, with 1.8 million private sector jobs created during the past 13 months, but too many Americans are still looking for a job or struggling to make ends meet.
* The recent increase in gas prices, caused by higher global demand and made worse by unrest and supply disruptions in the Middle East, is an added burden on American families in already tough times.
* Although there is no single, easy answer for addressing increased gas prices in the short term, there are things we can do to guarantee that Americans aren’t victims of escalating gas prices in the long term.
* One thing we can do is eliminate unnecessary tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and instead invest that money into clean energy, so that we can cut our dependence on foreign oil.
* America’s outmoded tax laws offer the oil and gas industry more than $4 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies, even though that industry is expected to report extra-large profits this quarter. Even as those companies are reaping near record profits, Americans are shelling out for near record gas prices. That doesn’t make sense and it has to end.
* CEO’s of leading oil companies have made it clear that such high oil prices alone offer enough of a profit motive to push them to invest in domestic oil exploration and production — even without special tax breaks.
* Speaker Boehner has said he’s open to eliminating wasteful subsidies for the oil and gas industry. For too long, our political system has avoided doing so. Now, hopefully, our leaders can come together in a bipartisan way to make it happen.
* In addition to eliminating wasteful subsidies for the oil and gas industry, we have to work toward a longer-term goal of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and making ourselves less vulnerable to an always-changing oil market.
* We should all be able to agree that rather than continuing to subsidize 20th century energy sources, we need to invest in 21st century energy sources. Instead of cutting funding for clean energy by 70 percent, as some in Congress have suggested, we need to make smart investments in a 21st century clean energy economy that will keep us competitive, support job creation, and help us to win the future.
The talking points are circulating even as new Post polling shows that rising gas prices are taking their toll on Obama’s numbers. The question is whether putting the oil industry and the subsidies it enjoys back at the center of the conversation can do enough to refocus public anger in a way that limits the damage.