Once again the Congress fails to provide relief to a nation that is besieged by an economic crisis:
Saved by Senate Republicans, big oil companies dodged an attempt Tuesday to slap them with a windfall profits tax and take away billions of dollars in tax breaks in response to the record gasoline prices that have the nation fuming.
GOP senators shoved aside the Democratic proposal, arguing that punishing Big Oil won't do a thing to lower the $4-a-gallon-price of gasoline that is sending economic waves across the country. High prices at the pump are threatening everything from summer vacations to Meals on Wheels deliveries to the elderly.
The Democratic energy package would have imposed a 25 percent tax on any "unreasonable" profits of the five largest U.S. oil companies, which together made $36 billion during the first three months of the year. It also would have given the government more power to address oil market speculation, opened the way for antitrust actions against countries belonging to the OPEC oil cartel, and made energy price gouging a federal crime.
"Americans are furious about what's going on," declared Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. He said they want Congress to do something about oil company profits and the "orgy of speculation" on oil markets.
But Republican leaders said the Democrats' plan would do harm rather than good -- and they kept the legislation from being brought up for debate and amendments.