*UPDATE: On Tuesday the Senate blocked a Democratic bill to eliminate the tax subsidies that have for so many years fattened Big Oil. All 45 Republicans voted against the bill, joined by 3 Democrats. Mary Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat asked, “Why are we harming an industry—five large oil and gas companies that work internationally, that employ 9.2 million people in the United States directly? Why are we doing it?” So it’s not just the Republicans who are in the pocket of Big Oil.
It’s a ritual. Every time gas prices skyrocket, the Big Five oil companies get called on the carpet by Congress. Last week, they outdid themselves defending their obscene profits and ridiculing the idea of cutting their $4 billion annual tax subsidies ($21 billion over the next decade) from the U.S. government—that is, from you.
ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva called such a proposal “un-American.” Rex Tillerson (above), ExxonMobil boss, said he would consider moving his business out of the U.S. if the tax burden got too high. And so it went.
Why is this so outrageous? Because
ExxonMobil’s first-quarter earnings of $10.7 billion are up 69 percent from last year. Other oil companies are also scoring record gains. The five biggest oil companies together report more than $35 billion in profits.
Giving the subsidies back, or earmarking them for R&D of renewable energy, would have scored big points for these guys with the public. Instead, we got a demonstration of major greed and political grandstanding by the Republicans that was breathtaking. (We should have forced Big Oil to fund the auto bailout three years ago.)
House Republicans want more offshore drilling,
authorizing leasing in long-protected waters of the north and central Atlantic coasts, the Southern California coast and Alaska, including Bristol Bay. It is as if the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico had never happened.
To his great discredit, President Obama immediately reversed himself and caved in to their demands for drilling in Alaska and off the coast of Virginia. Many experts point out that in a global oil market, these additional supplies (which won’t come online for years) will be a drop in the bucket. They surely won’t change the price of $4.00 gas.
The Big Oil porkers made one thing very clear in all this: They own much of the U.S. Congress: “[I]n the 2010 election cycle, Big Oil and Gas gave over $10 million to federal candidates, about three-quarters of which went to Republicans.”
So they don’t have to play PR games or try to placate anybody. They are in fact a cartel, and if we had any sense, we’d be talking about breaking them up, as the government did with Standard Oil 100 years ago.
Are you as sick of the Big Oil charade as I am? Isn’t it time to investigate the pricing practices of the oil industry?