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Blumenthal wants the U.S. to issue more government checks to residents. This time, he says oil companies should pay.

Photo of a gas station with cars lined up at the pumps. In the foreground, a sign shows that regular gas is $4.19 per gallon.
Ali Oshinskie
/
Connecticut Public Radio
Drivers wait in line Thursday at Forbes Premium Fuel in New Haven. The average gas price in Connecticut was $4.47 per gallon on Thursday.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced Friday that he is co-sponsoring a bill that would tax the largest oil companies on their post-pandemic profits and return that money to consumers in the form of quarterly checks mailed directly to taxpayers.

“We’ve seen this movie before. Prices rise, big oil companies profiteer. Their profits are at record levels,” Blumenthal said in a press conference on Friday.

The legislation would impose a 50% tax only on the difference in profits between now and pre-pandemic levels (determined by averaging the price of oil per barrel from 2015-2019).

Consumers would receive a quarterly check in the mail, similar to the stimulus checks sent out earlier in the pandemic. Singles making under $75,000 a year would receive $57.50 per quarter ($230 per year). Married couples making under $150,000 a year would get $90 per quarter ($360 per year). People in higher tax brackets would receive less money.

The bill would only tax domestic and foreign oil companies that produce more than 300,000 barrels per day; these oil companies make up about thirty percent of the market share. Blumenthal said that sparing smaller companies will keep the larger firms from simply increasing their prices even more — because if they do so, they will be priced out of the market.

He said he hopes the bill will receive bipartisan support. The ten other senators who have co-sponsored the bill are all Democrats, with the exception of Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

In his press conference Friday, Blumenthal advocated for additional measures to curb inflation and price gouging.

“There’s no magic bullet. There’s no one solution. The Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax is one of a number of tools that will enable us to put money back in people’s pockets,” Blumenthal said. “I think this kind of unprecedented, but well-merited, action fits the moment.”

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