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Forbes on FOX's Experts Offer Solution to Nation's Financial Woes - Cut Taxes on Big Oil!

Reported by Marie Therese - February 5, 2006

A grinning David Asman just oozed perky confidence on Saturday morning's Forbes on FOX, one of the four shows that make up FOX News' Saturday morning "Cost of Freedom" block. Life is good for David Asman as it is for all of the Forbes magazine panelists: Mike Ozanian, Elizabeth MacDonald, John Rutledge, Lea Goldman, Mike Maiello and Quentin Hardy.

Early on, Mike Ozanian staked out the pro-Oil position, stating that "oil companies are under siege" because "they pay a much higher tax rate than most companies and their profit margins are narrower than most companies." Therefore, he argued, "we have to level the playing field, lower the tax rate for oil companies, so they'll have higher profits, which will give them more incentive to get the oil out of the ground, get it to the customers" which will "create lower oil prices and a better economy."

Lea Goldman argued that the tax breaks should be for those developing alternative energy sources. Wheeler-dealer John Rutledge was all in favor of tax breaks, but his credibility was compromised (at least as far as I was concerned) when he mentioned several times that he advises both American and Chinese oil companies.

Davis Asman couldn't resist inserting one of FOX News' favorite mantras, i.e., the taxes being paid by Big Oil have swelled the federal tax coffers which, of course, is true, but their impact has been canceled out by the big tax cuts Bush has given to the top earners in the United States.

RUTLEDGE: "We're not competing for jobs with the rest of the world. We're competing for capital. Double-taxing of oil profits takes two-thirds of the profits away from the capital providers ... In China they're using tax concessions to draw oil companies in. We're using taxes to drive them out - and regulations. When the capital moves, the jobs go with it and so does the oil."

Quentin Hardy rebutted Ozanian's earlier claims saying that the current behavior of the oil companies does not lend credence to the Ozanian's idealistic concept.

HARDY: "But also look at their behavior. They're returning money to shareholders. They're buying back stock. They're not fully investing in new exploration with the money they have already. If you give them more money in the form of tax breaks, what makes you think they'll explore for more oil?"

Mike Maiello jumped in to note that the oil companies are "THE most heavily subsidized industry in the country, maybe with defense and pharmaceuticals - they get a lot for their tax dollar." He continued, "Hey, let's not tax them at all. Let them fight their own wars! I don't think they'd like that at all!"

After a brief back-and-forth, Quentin Hardy commented that "oil companies don't want to see $10 barrels. They won't make money. They like oil at 65 bucks a barrel. Why should they go out and find a lot more oil and lower prices? It means their profit margins, their profits will drop."

Elizabeth MacDonald offered her opinion that it's "the oil-producing countries, not the oil majors, who are really having a difficult time finding and exploring in those oil countries."

ASMAN: "The fact is that the oil sheiks - they don't have to explore for oil They know where the oil is. They're just buying gold and toys and nuclear weapons with all their oil wealth."

RUTLEDGE: "And making investments also in oil in Asia, for example But, you know, in twenty years China will use more oil than total world oil production today. There's not enough to go round. If we want to not knock heads, we better find some more oil and we better conserve oil."


Finally at the very end of this 4 minute segment the FOX audience heard the word CONSERVE. As far as this group was concerned, it was all about increasing supply, not about reducing consumption.

Why am I not surprised?

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