Senate Democrats: Big oil doesn't need tax breaks - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Senate Democrats: Big oil doesn't need tax breaks

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Oil company executives, from left, Chevron CEO John Watson; Shell Oil President Marvin Odum; BP America Chairman H. Lamar McKay; ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva; and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 12, 2011 Oil company executives, from left, Chevron CEO John Watson; Shell Oil President Marvin Odum; BP America Chairman H. Lamar McKay; ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva; and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 12, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats today are taking a stand against tax breaks for big oil companies at a time when gasoline is about $4 a gallon.

At a hearing, they've been challenging oil company executives to justify those tax breaks.

Chevron's CEO says they're just looking for the benefits that other industries get. And Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch accused Democrats of trying to provide a "justification for tax increases." To demonstrate what he thought of today's hearings, he referred to a large portrait of a dog sitting on a pony.

But Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon played a video of a 2005 congressional hearing in which oil company executives said they didn't need generous tax breaks because oil was selling at $55 a barrel. Today, the price of a barrel is nearly twice that high.

Still, Democrats acknowledged that their bill to repeal the tax breaks for the companies would not bring down the price of gasoline. And no one suggested that the legislation has a future beyond a talking point. Republicans have enough votes to block it in the Senate and the House is controlled by the GOP.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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