Questions for Senator Hatch

If you missed Rachel Maddow last week, she did an admirable job of taking down Senator Hatch after he attempted to defend the position that the Big Oil companies really, really, really needed those subsidies and that without them, well those Big Oil Companies just won’t be able to create jobs.  Huh?  And what jobs would those be, Senator?  The major oil companies have been raking in profits and shedding jobs for the last decade.  Watch Rachel’s takedown:

GOP Protected BIG Oil Subsidies Redux

As Americans continue to struggle with outrageous, unstable gas prices, big oil continues to benefit from them. Last week, the five biggest oil companies reported a massive profits:  $30 billion in first-quarter profits, a 38% increase from last year.

Despite these astronomical profits, yesterday House Republicans voted unanimously (Roll Call 293) to block consideration of a Democratic proposal to end some of the tax breaks and subsidies we give to big oil every year.

It’s outrageous that our government continues to reward these oil giants with an additional $4 billion a year of our money in tax credits and subsidies.  Watch Rachel Maddow’s take (yesterday) on the volatile price of oil since 2000 and the GOP’s take from oil companies in terms of campaign contributions.

In a March 2011 WSJ/NBC Poll, 74% of American’s oppose these oil subsidies, and nearly 170,000 people have signed our petition asking congress to end them. Credo has a petition up on line to keep the pressure building.  [Click here to automatically sign Credo’s petition.]

It is a testament to the influence of polluters, and the power of the money they shower upon congress, that so many of our leaders have continued to defend these senseless subsidies.  As recently as this March, House Republicans — while simultaneously pleading poverty and fighting for crippling budget cuts elsewhere — voted unanimously against repealing these oil subsidies, at a total cost to taxpayers of $45 billion over 10 years.

One would think that in the face of huge budget cuts, painful gas prices and shocking oil company profits, that it might be getting harder and harder for Republicans to defend subsidies for BIG oil. Surprisingly, last week Speaker John Boehner said that repealing oil subsidies “is certainly something we ought to be looking at” and that oil companies “ought to be paying their fair share.”  While his statement was quickly walked back the next day by an aide, it’s clear that cracks are beginning to show in the Republicans’ brazen defense of senseless oil handouts. Indeed, five House Republicans have now said they would support eliminating these subsidies.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi yesterday announced a Democratic proposal to repeal oil subsidies, and in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid will be unveiling a proposal next week.

Momentum is building. This is a key moment to keep the pressure on, and force every member of congress to choose: Americans, or the oil companies?  Tell Congress to end oil subsidies.

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House GOP Protect Subsidies for Big Oil

House Republicans Block Effort to End Giveaways at Time of Record Oil Co. Profits

(May 3, 2011 — Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today voted for a motion targeting taxpayer giveaways to big oil companies at a time when Nevadans are seeing gas prices climb even higher at the pump.  House Republicans joined unanimously in voting down the effort by Democrats to force action on H.R. 1689, The Big Oil Welfare Repeal Act of 2011.

“I have been calling for an end to these subsidies for years and there is no excuse for Republicans to block a vote on our bill to eliminate taxpayer giveaways to big oil.  At a time when Nevadans are paying outrageous sums to fill up their tanks so they can drive to work or take the kids to a soccer game, we should not be giving taxpayer money to oil companies whose profits are through the roof.  That is why I will keep pushing to see that this wasteful spending is cut,” said Berkley.  “We should be investing in creating even more clean energy jobs in Nevada and across the nation, not padding oil industry profits.”

In addition to today’s vote, Berkley signed a letter sent this week to Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp urging the elimination of tax breaks for big oil.  The Congresswoman and her Democratic colleagues are calling on Camp to immediately schedule a committee vote on a repeal measure.  The letter comes at a time when gas prices have surged in Nevada and across the nation and oil companies are reporting $32 billion in first quarter profits.

The text of the letter signed by Berkley and House Ways and Means Democrats can be viewed here and also appears below:

Dear Chairman Camp:

We are writing to urge you to schedule a mark up in the near future to consider legislation to repeal tax subsidies for large integrated oil companies. 

As you know, Speaker Boehner recently said that Big Oil is going to pay its “fair share in taxes.”  The Big Five oil companies reported a combined profit of $32 billion in the first quarter of 2011 alone.  Repealing the three largest tax breaks for the Big Five oil companies would raise billions of dollars a year. More than a billion dollars a year of that comes from one tax break enacted under the last Republican Majority.  This tax break, the Sec. 199 domestic manufacturing deduction, should never have benefited the Big Five in the first place.

At a time when our constituents are feeling the pain of rising gas prices, it is unjustifiable that our tax code subsidizes Big Oil to the tune of billions of dollars a year.  The Committee has a responsibility to ensure that our tax system is equitable, and we urge you to start by eliminating unjustified subsidies for large integrated oil companies.


Shelley Berkley
Member of Congress

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Source: News Release

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