Washington Babylon — December 3, 2008, 1:53 pm

Farewell to the Windfall Profits Tax

That was fast.

“I’ll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we’ll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills,” Obama said a few months ago when he was running against John McCain.

Now president-elect Obama has “shelved a proposal to slap oil and natural gas companies with a new windfall profits tax,” according to a story in the Houston Chronicle. The Obama-Biden transition project didn’t announce the shift. It was acknowledged after the American Small Business League released a press statement noting that Obama’s promise to implement such a tax had been removed from change.gov, the transition’s web site.

“The promise was displayed prominently at the top of the ‘economy’ section of Obama’s campaign website,” said the statement. “That same information was transferred to Obama’s transition website, www.change.gov, when it was launched on Thursday, November 6th. However, the language regarding the windfall profits tax was removed on Saturday, November 8th in an unceremonious and abrupt manner.”

I’ve heard reasonable people argue for and against the windfall profits tax, and gasoline prices are way down over the past few months. Still, it’s curious that Obama has already dropped the idea given how prominently it featured in his campaign rhetoric. And just over a month ago, Exxon Mobil reported a $14.83 billion profit for the third quarter, a record for a U.S. company.

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