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A tax break for Hugo Chavez?!

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 29, 2008 12:29 PM

Say what? I missed this one the other day. The House Democrats have apparently granted tax breaks for Hugo Chavez in the energy bill passed on Wednesday. Via CNS:

House Republicans criticized energy legislation passed late Wednesday, saying that it would raise taxes on the oil industry but give tax breaks to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the state-run oil company CITGO.

“Middle-class families and small businesses are feeling the squeeze from rising costs for gasoline, food, and other costs of living,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Democrats’ ‘no energy’ bill will only make matters worse by raising taxes and setting the table for even higher prices at the pump.”

The House passed the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 on a vote of 236 to 182. Senate Democratic leaders have indicated they would fast-track the bill to try to avoid a Republican filibuster…”It actually carves out tax breaks for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez – courtesy of American taxpayers,” said Boehner. “This is unacceptable, and the Democratic leadership is irresponsible for bringing the bill to the House floor.”

“I am disappointed that the Majority voted down a Republican proposal to eliminate the tax relief for Hugo Chavez and give it to those who need it most: middle-class American families,” he said. “The largest tax increase in American history is on the horizon, and House Republicans are committed to stopping it.”

The Foundry has more:

We know liberals in Congress are sympathetic to Hugo Chavez leftist agenda, but cutting him a tax break is a little over the line. Yesterday, the House passed an energy bill that raised taxes on American oil and gas companies. Notice the emphasis on ‘American.’ What should surprise everyone is that Citgo, Chavez’ personal ATM that operates in the U.S., is still getting a 6 percent tax break for domestic manufacturing that Exxon, Chevron, BP, Conoco-Phillips and Shell will all loose. How is this possible?

The House figures that since Petroleos de Venezuela, doesn’t actually produce any oil and gas in the U.S, they just refine and distribute it, they shouldn’t have to face the punitive taxation that the House wants to inflict on U.S. oil producers. So just at a time when oil is reaching over $100 a barrel liberals want to decrease domestic production and give Chavez a financial leg up on his U.S. competitors. All this so the House can pat itself on the back for “doing something” about global warming.

And more from CQ Politics:

The tax package (HR 5351), which passed 236-182, repeals subsidies for five major oil and gas companies to offset $13.7 billion of the $18.1 billion in renewable-energy tax breaks contained in the bill.

Meanwhile, Citgo Petroleum Corp. would continue to receive a 6 percent deduction for domestic manufacturing that the largest firms would lose.

Citgo, which refines oil and markets and transports gasoline in the United States, is owned by a subsidiary of the government-owned Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., or PDVSA. Because Citgo does not drill for oil and gas domestically or abroad, it does not fall under the bill’s definition of companies that will lose a major tax break.

The five big companies targeted by the bill — Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips — all produce and refine oil and sell gasoline in the United States, and therefore under the bill would lose the domestic manufacturing deduction they received as part of a corporate tax law in 2004 (PL 108-357).

GOP lawmakers Wednesday argued that such a policy runs counter to the Democrats’ goals for the bill — to reduce dependence on foreign oil and increase national security — by providing a tax break to a company owned by a country whose head of state just weeks ago threatened to stop oil sales to the United States.

“This bill raises taxes for U.S. oil and gas production . . . while giving more American dollars to a dictator that has threatened to take away U.S. energy supplies,” said Republican Phil English of Pennsylvania.

What’s Spanish for “Shoot yourselves in the foot?”

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