WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Monday will urge oil companies to use “record profits” to lower pump prices and increase production or face the possibility of a new tax.
If oil companies don’t act, Biden will call on Congress to consider tax penalties and other restrictions, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The specifics of Biden’s announcement, which is scheduled for Monday afternoon, were first reported by the Associated Press.
The White House announced Monday morning that Biden “will respond to reports over recent days of major oil companies making record-setting profits even as they refuse to help lower prices at the pump for the American people.”
Biden’s move comes days before the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Polls show inflation is a top concern of voters and gas prices are one of the most visible signs of pocketbook pain.
The national average price at the pump is down since the summer peaks but is still 36 cents higher than a year ago, according to AAA.
Getting a new tax through the current Congress would be difficult and would likely become impossible if Republicans take control of the House in next week’s elections. Republicans say the administration should lower regulatory barriers if it wants to increase energy production.
Still, the White House has been hammering away on the issue to show Biden is trying to ease the high gas prices he says are the fault of oil producers and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Less than two weeks ago, Biden announced the tail end of an historic release of 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that he’d ordered in March to lower pump prices.
He complained that “outsized industry profit margins” were adding more than 60 cents to the average price of a gallon of gas.
“Oil companies made billions in profits this quarter,” Biden tweeted Saturday. “It’s time for these companies to bring down prices at the pump.”
Exxon Mobil had a record-breaking third quarter profit of $19.66 billion in net income, according to the Associated Press. Chevron’s $11.23 billion in profits nearly matched its second quarter record profits.
Story Credit: usatoday.com