As has been widely reported by the national media, an important oil subsidies fight was lost in the U.S. Senate. Because of the power and influence of the big oil companies, I guess this was to be expected. Over the weeks before the vote to repeal the massive handouts to Big Oil, the industry’s public relations machine went into overdrive. Their goal was to convince the public that taking away the handouts would hurt folks at the pump by driving prices up, which was totally false. While the Big Oil PR machine was working, the lobbyists spent their time and efforts making sure their “buddies” in the Senate didn’t jump ship. The billions of dollars recouped had the subsidies been revoked could have been used to promote demand for clean and domestic fuel, provide incentives for the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles and build a clean energy infrastructure. It would also have helped reduce the budget deficit.
While it’s time for Congress to start looking out for the public’s interest and not that of the big oil companies, nothing has happened thus far that hasn’t benefited Big Oil. Over the years, the oil industry has wielded tremendous influence over presidents and members of Congress. As a result, the industry has been very well taken care of in Washington. The move by Democratic Senators to repeal the huge subsidies failed when there weren’t enough votes to force a vote on the bill.
The tax breaks enjoyed by the five biggest oil companies amounts to over $2 billion a year. The money saved had the Democratic Senators been successful would have been used to attack the spiraling deficit. It has been reported that the top five oil companies booked profits of $36 billion in the first quarter of this year alone. Republicans who opposed to the bill claimed the companies would raise prices if the measure became law. I didn’t buy that argument and I don’t believe most Americans did either. There are members of Congress who continue to do the bidding of Big Oil, ignoring the needs of American citizens and taxpayers which is a sad commentary on how things work in our Nation’s Capitol.
Source: Public Citizen and Forbes
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