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Oil Is At Obama's $80-Per-Barrel Threshold -- Will He Now Fulfill His Windfall Profits Tax Promise?

Will the administration act?

Lloyd Chapman of the American Small Business League  asks a very simple question: With oil at or near $80 a barrel, will the Obama administration now deliver on its promise to enact a windfall profits tax on big oil companies?

Some history: Obama promised to enact such a tax during the campaign, and this promise was one of the very first that he broke. As you can see from  this piece I wrote back in early December of 2008, he broke the pledge as president-elect, before even assuming office.

To their (minimal) credit, Obama's spokespeople didn't use the Big Lie tactic they've been  using of late - that is, they didn't simply deny that Obama ever made the campaign promise. Way back in those less cynical days of 2008, they at least  offered up a post-facto benchmark of $80-per-barrel as a threshold:


"President-elect Obama announced the policy during the campaign because oil prices were above $80 per barrel," an aide on Obama's transition team said. "They are currently below that now and expected to stay below that."

OK, fine. So now oil is at that $80-per-barrel threshold. Will the administration act? Chapman says it must - and says such a policy will help the kinds of small businesses his organizations represent.

"Implementing a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry is a reasonable, efficient and effective means of keeping energy costs down and helping American businesses and families," he writes over at  Huffington Post. "Now that oil has topped $80 per barrel, it will be interesting to see what President Obama's new excuse is going to be for not honoring his campaign promise."

Interesting, indeed. Stay tuned.

David Sirota was the top spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee. He is currently writing a book on the middle class economic squeeze for Crown Publishers. You can contact him at

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