COLUMBIA — U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill visited a Shell gas station on Interstate 70 Drive as part of her "Fighting for Fairness" tour, which came to Columbia on Wednesday.
McCaskill, D-Mo., spoke to a handful of media at the gas station as part of her travels through Missouri focused on a discussion of her goals for a fairer tax code and more level playing field for Missouri residents of varying incomes. McCaskill began her speech with the issue of high gas prices.
"There are people trying to figure out if they can afford to work because it costs so much to get there," she said.
At the Shell station, regular unleaded gas was $3.69 a gallon.
McCaskill said she supports various actions to lower gas prices, including the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, an investigation into U.S. oil refineries and a release of oil from reserves. She said the release from reserves is not a long-term solution, but would curb speculation in the short term.
"It would catch those speculators kind of with their pants down," she said of those who take on extra financial risks in hopes of earning a larger profit. "That would be a good thing."
McCaskill said she doesn't believe that the "wildly profitable" big oil companies are deserving of tax breaks and that taking away those tax breaks would not have an impact on the price of gas at the pump.
"It's chump change for them," she said.
McCaskill also discussed her support of the "Buffett Rule," legislation named after the uber-wealthy Warren Buffett that would raise taxes for multimillionaires.
McCaskill said her "Fighting for Fairness" tour deals with issues being voted on now in the national legislature. She pointed out a recent, unsuccessful U.S. Senate vote against tax breaks for oil companies and the upcoming vote on the "Buffett Rule."
A statement from Todd Abrajano, a spokesman for opponent John Brunner, said McCaskill has a contradictory voting record.
"Missourians should be outraged that just last week Sen. McCaskill cast a vote that would have raised gas prices, and now she's back home holding press conferences across the state claiming that she's protecting families from rising energy costs," the statement read.
Steve Taylor, a spokesman of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., another McCaskill opponent, said Akin understands that low energy prices are key to a strong economyand supports using domestic resources, including oil, gas and nuclear power.
Opponent Sarah Steelman said in a statement that McCaskill is working only to get re-elected.
"She's not fighting for fairness, she's fighting for re-election," the statement from the former state treasurer read. "I'm willing to do what Claire McCaskill has been unwilling to do, and that's stand up to special interests and overhaul the entire tax code so that Missouri families can keep more of their own money."
The tour comes as McCaskill is seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate.