Senate Dems: Cut oil industry tax breaks 

Democrats, faced with a GOP plan to slash this year's spending by more than $32 billion, have fired back at the GOP with their own plan, upping the pressure on Republicans to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies as prices rise at the pumps.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other Senate Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, asking him to consider a proposal to eliminate cut tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies, which they said would save $20 billion over ten years.

“This is just one example of a wasteful item in the budget that could be cut in order to make a down payment toward reducing nation’s deficit," states the letter, which is signed by ten Senate Democrats. "If the House chooses to adopt this suggestion, it would represent a good first step towards cutting spending in a bipartisan way."

Despite record oil company profits, it's unlikely the GOP would consider such a proposal. They've resisted moves in the past to increase taxes on oil companies, most recently in June, saying additional taxes would stunt domestic oil production.

But for Democrats, the oil company tax proposal is a chance for them to stake out their own territory on the issue of deficit reduction.

Democrats said in the letter that they agree with Republicans that cuts are needed, but question what should eliminated.

"Senate Democrats believe we must make sure we're cutting waste and excess, not making deep cuts in the programs that are making a difference for families and businesses or helping our economy grow," the letter states.

The two sides only have a few weeks to come to an agreement on spending as the short-term measure funding the government is set to expire on March 4.

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Susan Ferrechio

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