WH Press Meltdown

Carney Can't Explain Obama's Vote for 2005 Energy Bill


White House press secretary Jay Carney had no answer Thursday as to why President Obama voted for the 2005 Energy Policy Act, when he now supports cutting subsidies for oil and gas companies.

REPORTER: You said earlier, why did the president vote for the energy bill in 2005 as a senator if it had over $2 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry? They were making a lot of money then, too.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, what I can tell you, Ed, is that the oil and gas companies in this country are making record profits now in 2012. The price at the pump is very high. And that is plenty of incentive for these companies to continue to drill, to continue to explore and continue to develop energy sources here in the United States and abroad.  There is no reason for the American taxpayer to subsidize that activity.

REPORTER: So why’d he vote for that?

MR. CARNEY:  Look, I haven’t examined the vote or what the prices were at the time or the whole bill that it was attached to. What I know and what the president knows is that this year, in 2012, when we are seeing high prices at the pump, high prices on the international oil market and record profits from the oil and gas companies, there is no reason to continue these kinds of subsidies. It’s just — it — take that argument out to the people; I don’t think they’ll go along with it.

In 2005, Obama voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act, which, among other things, included numerous tax breaks for the oil, gas and coal industries.

Like now, consumers at the time were concerned about the rising cost of gasoline, which spiked above $3 soon after the bill was passed.

The oil industry raked in “record revenues” that year, despite rising fuel costs across the globe, about to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama criticized the energy bill, despite voting in its favor. Then Sen. Hillary Clinton voted against the bill, which she later described as a “Dick Cheney lobbyist energy bill.”