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Harry Reid’s Jimmy Carter Memorial Act: Senate takes up windfall profits tax; Update: Reid cloture motion falls short, 51-43; Roll call vote added, McCain and Obama skip out

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 10, 2008 08:40 AM

Scroll down for updates…10:07am Eastern: Reid is on the Senate floor whining about GOP obstruction…McConnell: Carter windfall profits tax was a “miserable failure” and would be again…See Ben Lieberman’s legislative analysis of the Dem energy measures here…11:23am Eastern Vote now underway on whether to move forward with S3044…Reid needs 60 votes…11:52am Eastern. Cloture motion fails, 51-43…Roll call vote added below

More gaseous demagoguery will be emitted on the Senate floor today as Harry Reid leads the crusade to impose a Jimmy Carter-era windfall profits tax on oil companies.

Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters has already threatened to nationalize the oil industry.

Here’s Dick Durbin demonizing profits:

With gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon, Senate Democrats want the government to grab some of the billions of dollars in profits being taken in by the major oil companies.

Senators were to vote Tuesday on whether to consider a windfall profits tax against the five largest U.S. oil companies and rescind $17 billion in tax breaks the companies expect to enjoy over the next decade.

“The oil companies need to know that there is a limit on how much profit they can take in this economy,” said Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, warning that if energy prices are not reined in “we’re going to find ourselves in a deep recession.”

Some GOP leaders vow they’ll fight:

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will need 60 votes Tuesday to proceed with the oil tax legislation in the face of a threatened GOP filibuster. If he doesn’t get 60, he likely will pull the bill from the floor.

Only last week, Reid was forced to withdraw a measure aimed at addressing global warming, falling short of the 60 votes needed to advance that legislation…

…Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has acknowledged that Americans are hurting from the high energy costs but strongly opposes the Democrats’ response and has ridiculed those who “think we can tax our way out of this problem.”

Oil executives, testifying before Congress last month, called the proposed taxes “punitive” and warned that they would discourage domestic oil and gas exploration and production, possibly causing prices to rise instead of fall.
The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the major oil companies, has been reminding lawmakers that in the early 1980s, when the government imposed windfall profits taxes on oil companies domestic oil production dropped and imports increased. But Democrats reject the comparison. The Senate proposal would impose a 25 percent tax on profits over what would be determined “reasonable” and would allow oil companies to avoid paying the tax if they invest the money in alternative energy projects or refinery expansion.

Barack Obama supports the new tax and grab scheme.

And McCain? Well, I’ll remind you what he said last month in Charlotte, NC:

Transcript:

MCCAIN: “Um, I don’t like obscene profits being made anywhere–and I’d be glad to look not just at the windfall profits tax–that’s not what bothers me–but we should look at any incentives that we are giving to people, that or industries or corporations that are distorting the market.”

***

Update: Commenter liberty3:

I have been calling my Congressional representatives all morning about drilling for OUR oil. Decided to call Senator McConnell’s office, since he is the minority leader. I asked to speak to someone on the subject—the young lady who took my call said she would pass along a message. I repeated that I wanted to speak to someone versed in the subject—click…she hung up on me. Wow, didn’t expect that from the minority leaders office…

The dial tone we deserve?

Update 10:12am Eastern. McConnell on the Senate floor pointing out that the Carter windfall profits tax was a “miserable failure…Americans understand supply and demand…” Cites polls showing increasing number of voters who want drilling.

Update 10:25am Eastern. Charles Schumer demagogues Exxon Mobil, pooh-poohs ANWR. Kay Bailey Hutchison calls the Dems’ bill, “pure and simple…pathetic.”

Update 11:52am Eastern. Reid fails. 51-43.

Update 12:43pm Eastern. Here’s the roll call vote.

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*Reid voted no in order to bring it back up on the floor at a later time.

Via CNN:

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a Democratic initiative that would have taxed the windfall profits oil companies have enjoyed due to rising energy prices, with the minority leader calling the proposal a “gimmick.”

Record energy prices have led to record profits for oil companies.

The measure failed to achieve the 60 votes required by Senate rules to proceed. The vote was 51-43.

Six Republicans, including three seeking re-election in November, broke ranks to support the bill.

Two Democrats — Sen. Mary Landrieu of oil-producing state Louisiana and Majority Leader Harry Reid, who voted no to be able to bring the measure back to the floor under Senate rules — voted against the measure.

Along with placing a special tax of 25 percent on oil companies, the bill would have permitted lawsuits against the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the oil-producing cartel, and suspended deposits into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Profits from renewable energy sources would be excluded from the tax.

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