BOSTON GLOBE: Lynch: Calls to tap oil reserve ‘premature’
As originally appearing in The Boston Globe

By Todd Wallack

Globe Staff

Splitting with some of his Democratic colleagues, US Representative Stephen Lynch said today that he doesn’t favor releasing crude oil from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to try to drive down gas prices.

“I think it’s premature right now,” Lynch told business leaders at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the New England Council at the Hampshire House in Boston. The council represents the region’s businesses in Washington.

Yesterday, fellow Massachusetts congressman Ed Markey and two other House Democrats urged President Obama to devise an “aggressive strategy” to use the reserve to reduce oil prices. With increased tension in the Middle East, crude oil prices have surged to more than $100 a barrel and gas prices have edged closer to $4 a gallon across the country.

But Lynch said he thought the current price increase was driven by speculation and fear about the future of Iran and the Middle East, rather than a lack of oil supplies. “Putting more oil in the market is not going to lower the fear that is driving that speculation,” Lynch said.

In addition, Lynch said it’s impractical to tap the reserve anytime oil prices spike. “We need to maintain that reserve,” he said.

Separately, Lynch joined the chorus of Republicans and Democrats who called for overhauling the tax system. Yesterday, the Obama administration proposed revamping the corporate tax code to lower the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent while eliminating loopholes and special tax breaks.

“The only way to get to a good place is to really restructure everything,” Lynch said.

But Lynch said it might be difficult to broker a deal between Republicans and Democrats, partly because it’s an election year and partly because many Republicans have signed pledges not to raise any taxes, limiting their ability to compromise.

Todd Wallack can be reached at twallack@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @twallack.

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