Nightly News | May 12, 2011
>>> big drop in oil prices over the past week, has translated into some relief at the gas pump . $3.98 today's national average. gas is still real expensive, and american's frustration over that spilled out on capitol hill today just as some oil executives defended their tax breaks for their industry. nbc's kelly o'donnell covering today in washington. kelly , good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, brian. democrats led the charge here. they want to end some tax deductions and use that money, about $21 billion to pay down the national debt . republicans say it's wrong to single out just a few corporations with higher taxes. here are some of the highlights with those ceo's on the hot seat.
>> the five largest oil companies who are here today collectively earned more than $35 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2011 alone. at this pace, 2011 will be their most profitable year.
>> you would have an easier time convincing the american people that a unicorn flew into this hearing room, than that these big oil companies need taxpayer subsidies.
>> don't punish our industry for doing our job well.
>> how can you possibly need incentives when oil is at $100 a barrel.
>> the easy to find oil has already been found. our costs go up, taxes go up. oil is more difficult to find, more challenging.
>> will raising taxes lower the price at the pump?
>> raising our taxes will not reduce the price of gasoline .
>> i just want that on the record. i think you're really out of touch.
>> i want to assure you, i'm not out of touch at all. and we do understand the big picture and the enormous challenges confronting the american people .
>> reporter: both parties say they don't think this would have any impact on the price we pay at the pump. there will be a vote next week. democrats say big oil should make a small sacrifice. brian?
>> and so it goes on capitol hill . kelly o'donnell in