As one politician bluntly said of Washington’s annual tax giveaway to massively profitable oil corporations, “We don’t need incentives to the oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives.” That was no lefty talking — it was George W. Bush.
Yet, thanks to their lobbyists and campaign cash, the oil guys have been allowed to keep drilling into our public treasury, pumping out some $4 billion a year in tax subsidies — more than half of which goes to the five richest corporations. Far from exploring for more oil, hiring more Americans, or investing in renewable energy, top executives have spent the vast majority of their huge profits on driving up their own corporations’ stock prices to enrich themselves.
This is why oil executives are less popular than a Mississippi River flood. Indeed, a Congressional proposal to end Big Oil’s tax gimmies is supported by 74 percent of Americans, including a majority of Republicans. Yet, in March, every single Republican in the House voted in lockstep to protect every oil subsidy. Also, the new GOP budget retains every dime of the giveaway, even as it slashes food stamps, job training and health care for seniors and the poor.
But it’s the poor oil goliaths that draw the tongue-clucking sympathy of these compassionate corporatists. For example, GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty called the idea of ending the subsidy “ludicrous,” wailing that killing it would be a crude “tax increase” on the waifs of Big Oil.
Meanwhile, Chevron’s CEO says, “I don’t think people want shared sacrifice [from oil corporations]. I think they want shared prosperity.” Hello, Earth to Chevron-Man, you’ve been grossly prosperous for years — where’s the sharing?
If ignorance goes to $100 a barrel, try to get drilling rights on that guy’s head.