Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey)
Congressional Democrats seem to be sharpening their message about ending subsidies for oil companies. The Dems have been arguing that the highly profitable likes of BP and Exxon Mobile don't need the tens of billions they now get in tax breaks. Defending the subsidies puts Republicans in an uncomfortable position -- House Speaker John Boehner has suggested they could go away, when he hasn't been defending them.
Now Senate Democrats are tying an end to $21 billion in subsidies not to an increase in spending on alternative energy, but to cutting the deficit, which Republicans insist is a top priority. "This is as good a time as any in terms of pain at the pump and in revenues needed for deficit reduction," Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) tells the New York Times.
Democrats haven't got the numbers they need to force an end to the subsidies, but they can at least put the Republicans on record about it. This one is shades of Majority Leader Harry Reid's call for Republicans to vote on their proposal to privatize Medicare. Shortly afterward, Speaker Boehner and his caucus began walking away.