President Obama, apparently embracing his position as a Democratic president with no elections left to fight, is proposing a hefty new tax on oil to fund cleaner energy and transportation. The White House says Obama's budget request to Congress will include a $10-per-barrel tax on oil companies, which would raise up to $32 billion a year, some of which would be spent on mass transit and on replacing the country's aging infrastructure, the New York Times reports. The tax will affect foreign and domestic oil companies alike, and the White House—which will include relief for families affected by higher energy bills in the plan—admits that oil firms will probably pass the cost of the tax on to consumers, USA Today reports.
Of course, even with today's relatively low oil prices, the GOP-controlled Congress is no more likely to adopt a new oil tax in an election year than it is to propose adding Obama's face to Mount Rushmore. Administration aides admit that the main goal is to introduce "a new vision" for transportation and change the debate, Politico reports. House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced the plan as an "election-year distraction" that "this lame-duck president" knows will be "dead on arrival in Congress." Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, tells Politico that it will certainly be "tough sledding"—but he gives the administration credit for offering a long-term transportation blueprint instead of a short-term fix, and for "having the guts to say how they would pay for it all." (Read more oil production stories.)