Here is the Obama campaign's explanation of Obama's proposed windfall tax.
Barack Obama will require oil companies to take a reasonable share of their record-breaking windfall profits and use it to provide direct relief worth $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a married couple. The relief would be delivered as quickly as possible to help families cope with the rising price of gasoline, food and other necessities. The rebates would be fully paid for with five years of a windfall profits tax on record oil company profits. This relief would be a down payment on Obama’s long-term plan to provide middle-class families with at least $1,000 per year in permanent tax relief. The Obama energy rebates will: offset the entire increase in gas prices for a working family over the next four months; or pay for the entire increase in winter heating bills for a typical family in a cold-weather state. In addition, Obama has proposed setting aside a portion of a second round of fiscal stimulus to ensure sufficient funding for home heating and weatherization assistance as we move into the fall and winter months.Hugo Chavez would be proud. Obama is using populist rhetoric to villanize oil companies in order to justify seizing their profits and using those profits to purchase votes. As Mark Perry points out on his blog, Oil Companies already pay more taxes than all the lower 50% of income earners combined and Exxon alone has paid over $20 billion in taxes in the first half of 2008. Where does it end?