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BIG OIL EXECUTIVES FAIL TO JUSTIFY WHY THEY DESERVE TAXPAYER-FUNDED HANDOUTS WHEN WE COULD BE USING THE MONEY TO PAY DOWN THE DEFICIT

Thursday, May 12, 2011

CONTACT: Zac Petkanas/ Meredith MacKenzie, (202) 224-9521

 

REID: BIG OIL EXECUTIVES FAIL TO JUSTIFY WHY THEY DESERVE TAXPAYER-FUNDED HANDOUTS WHEN WE COULD BE USING THE MONEY TO PAY DOWN THE DEFICIT

Washington, D.C.—Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement on Finance Committee hearings on taxpayer-funded subsidies for oil companies:
“The CEOs of the five biggest oil companies proved our point.  They failed to explain why American taxpayers should continue throwing their hard-earned money at oil companies that are raking in record profits. We should be using that money to pay down the deficit, instead of cutting vital programs like cancer research and student loans. The only thing more mind-boggling than Republicans’ defense of their oil company allies is that they would rather end Medicare than stop giving taxpayer dollars to oil companies that don’t need them.

 “I thank Chairman Baucus for holding this important hearing, and hope my Republican colleagues will come to their senses and work with us to end these wasteful giveaways of taxpayer dollars.”

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REID: IF GOP IS SERIOUS ABOUT REDUCING DEFICIT, TAXPAYER-FUNDED BONUSES FOR OIL COMPANIES ARE AN EASY PLACE TO START

 

‘Taxpayer giveaways to companies pulling in record profits are the epitome of wasteful spending.’

 

Washington, D.C.–Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding tax giveaways for oil companies:

“As I speak, the heads of the five largest oil and gas companies in the world are testifying across the street.  With the country watching, these extremely wealthy CEOs of extremely profitable corporations are trying to explain to the Senate – and most importantly, to the American people – why they need taxpayer handouts.

 “I don’t envy them.  It’s an impossible position to defend.

 “Think about this: In just the first three months of this year, the oil industry made $36 billion in profits alone.  Not revenues – profits.  That’s $12 billion a month.  That’s $3 billion a week.  That’s pretty good money.

 “Meanwhile, the American taxpayer is giving these same successful companies $4 billion a year. 

 “So when you take these companies’ profits and add in the handout you, me and every taxpayer gives them, America is saying to Big Oil: You make $3 billion a week for 52 weeks, and we’ll basically give you a 53rd week for free.

 “Even in the strongest of economies, that seems unnecessary.  In this recovering economy, it’s downright indefensible.

 “Defending these tax breaks is such a hard thing to do that the Big Oil bosses have called for backup.  Most of our Republicans colleagues have eagerly answered the call.

 “But here’s something I learned in the courtroom a long time ago: When you try to defend the indefensible, you’re not left with much of a case.  That’s why the Republican defenders of Big Oil have resorted to simply making things up.

 “They’ll tell you that without this taxpayer-funded bonus, gas prices will go up.  They say that because they know it’s a scary thought – gas prices are already high.  But there’s a big problem with their argument: it’s not true. 

 “Big oil subsidies don’t have a thing to do with the price at the pump.  A report released yesterday by a nonpartisan, independent agency says as much.  The experts at the Congressional Research Service who wrote this report don’t mention it just once.  They write it over and over again.

 “Here’s one way CRS says it: ‘there is little reason to believe that the price of oil or gasoline consumers face will increase.’

 “Here’s another: ‘available output and prices should be unaffected.’

 “And here’s one more: This independent, nonpartisan, expert report says taking away Big Oil’s tax breaks will have ‘no effect on the price of gasoline.’

 “‘Little reason to believe’ prices will increase.  ‘Prices should be unaffected.’  ‘No effect on the price of gasoline.’  Their words, not mine.

 “So the American people should know this: every time you hear someone defend taxpayer gifts to gas companies by scaring you about gas prices, they’re not telling you the truth.

 “And every time you hear someone say that we need to find better uses for taxpayer money, but that we also need to keep giving billions and billions of dollars of that same money to oil companies, ask yourself how it’s possible that both are true.

 “I’m pleased to see some of my Republican colleagues slowly coming around.  The Speaker of the House recently said these companies should be paying their fair share.  Yesterday, the senior Senator from Arizona admitted the subsidies are unnecessary.  Even the former head of Shell – one of the big five companies testifying today – agrees.

 “If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, this is an easy place to start.  It’s a no-brainer.  Taxpayer giveaways to companies pulling in record profits are the epitome of wasteful spending. 

 “So this is Democrats’ idea: Let’s use the savings from these taxpayer giveaways to drive down the deficit, not drive up oil company profits.

 “These CEOs and their companies are free to make as much money as they can.  They just don’t need the American taxpayer’s help.  And the country sure could use those $4 billion a year.

 “It’s such an obvious solution that it should have happened years ago.  But here we are, with one side saying that black is black, and the other still insisting that black is white.

 “This debate would be a lot easier if Republicans just came out and said what they really mean.  They should simply say openly that they want to protect their friends in Big Oil.  I don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.  Instead, they’re peddling misinformation and scare tactics.

 “Republicans should at least have the decency to admit it – and then let the American people decide who is best representing their interests.”

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