Senate Democrats announced a plan on Tuesday to help fix the national budget by ending decades-long subsidies for big oil that would mean $21 billion in new revenue over the next ten years. The plan was announced as a comeback for the Republicans’ proposal that $2 trillion in spending cuts be traded for Republican support to raise the national debt ceiling. With Americans still complaining about gas prices and the biggest oil companies still raking in record profits, Democrats believe calling attention to this disparity by cutting tax loopholes for big oil is the best thing to do. We’d love to see this plan go through and become an impetus for more renewable energy research but as always, we’re not holding our breath.
The targeted loopholes would only affect the largest of the oil companies — ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips — and would not affect smaller producers. Republicans are promising that their $2 trillion in cuts will not include any new tax cuts but the Democrats’ plan is not a tax increase. Rather, this strategy closes unnecessary loopholes that cost US taxpayers billions. Those on the left side of congress are trying to pull the conversation into the center by forcing Republicans to address and defend taxpayer subsidies for some of the most profitable companies on Earth. If passed, this legislation would mean a big political blow to the oil industry and a possible push forward for clean energy investments.
“Do you think working-class families should be the only people sacrificing to help lower the deficit?” said Senator Robert Menendez (N.J.). “Do you think the wealthy and powerful should pay their fair share to help balance the budget, or should we simply let their high-priced lobbyists shield them from their responsibilities?” Menendez then noted the latest quarterly profit from the five largest oil companies, which totaled $35.8 billion, and that’s just for January 1st through March 31st of this year. Keeping that in mind, $21 billion over the next decade seems like a small drop in a very large, dirty oil bucket. With gas prices throughout the rest of the world doubling those in the United States — information on gas prices can be found on this webpage from the Department of Energy — and profits from those prices always creeping higher, this legislation seems like a small but fair thing to do.