Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) returned to his role Thursday as a Donald Trump supporter on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s deficit-fighting “Roadmap to Prosperity” energy plan, using terms such as “Mad Hatter” and “Mad Muppet” to mock the president’s main legislative ally on spending.
Ryan unveiled the plan in January with an eye on appealing to more conservative voters, resulting in slight shifts in several energy-related provisions, as well as language concerning the leasing of offshore oil drilling rights. But the emphasis on “fiscal responsibility” has prompted critics to wonder if lawmakers would use the measure to raise taxes on oil and gas.
According to Barrasso, the House GOP plan includes a provision for “refinement of” royalty calculations on offshore oil and gas revenue, hinting that revenue from one type of oil extraction — or production, as it is known in the industry — could be taxed.
Barrasso, one of three Republicans among 12 original co-sponsors of an energy bill that would implement the “Roadmap” plan, said the royalty provisions are the best way to avoid raising taxes or hurting energy exploration.
“This is Alice in Wonderland logic,” Barrasso said. “You try to reform the royalty formula, end up making taxpayers, state and local government producers of energy pay more money.”
Ryan has not discussed using the “Roadmap” plan to raise money, but he has talked at length about seeking fiscal discipline in the Energy Department. He spoke of “herding dollars” and said that “prudence requires that new programmatic spending only be approved if it is necessary to address national security and other economic challenges.”
“That basic idea is embraced by the White House, and it’s what Speaker Ryan seeks to implement,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said when the plan was unveiled.
Ryan was asked in an interview this week with CBS News if he believes a bipartisan “Roadmap” deal is achievable.
“We’re working to find that,” he said. “I have confidence that we can get something done in an appropriate way. I wouldn’t call it a prerequisite, but I have confidence that we’ll get something done.”
Barrasso said the measure shouldn’t add more burdens on the oil and gas industry.
“Republicans, everybody, that’s the ‘Roadmap’ to Prosperity,” he said. “Saying you’re in favor of fiscal responsibility and balancing the budget is one thing. Saying that your goal is to raise taxes, reduce the availability of energy and do away with incentives for expansion and growth, well, that doesn’t make sense.”