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$100 Gas Rebate Proposal Thoughts

Three Republican senators have attached an energy package to the emergency funding package for the war in Iraq which would give taxpayers a $100 rebate (for gas), repeal tax incentives for Big oil, and permit the Federal Trade Commission to prosecute any retail price gougers. It would also open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration as well, which is a sticking point for most Democrats and some moderate Republicans. Democrats are expected to put forward an energy plan of their own. It’s politics as usual.

On one hand I don’t want a $100 rebate, but on the other I know it’ll help a lot of people in the lower income brackets where gas prices have actually affected behavior. I think the $100 should only go to those who make under a certain income level and not to everyone… the exiting CEO of Exxon surely doesn’t need a $100 gas rebate (especially since he probably doesn’t even pay for it in the first place) on top of the several hundred million he’s pocketing in retirement. Would you turn away $100?

I, however, do want to see tax incentives repealed for Big Oil because if the government is willing to help out in times of crisis, it should also be willing to pull the plate away when Big Oil’s had enough at the buffet. In the late 90’s, Exxon’s exploration ventures came at a cost of $40/barrel when oil was selling for $20 (it’s in their 2005 annual report), so I almost understand the need for assistance. Now, though, the market environment has changed in their favor so are incentives really necessary?

Finally, why can’t the FTC prosecute price gougers anyway? Why does there need to be a law for them to do that enforcement? It seems like it should be something someone should be doing anyway.

Please share your thoughts…