Democrats Seek to Strip $21 Billion in Subsidies from Big Oil

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Photo: FaceMePLS, Flickr, CC BY

... But it's all about politics. The New York Times reported earlier this week that Democrats thought they'd found a strategy to peel away some of the oil subsidies that the federal government annually doles out to some of the world's most profitable companies. That strategy was, simply, to propose the funds be used instead to ease the federal deficit. If the GOP is so concerned about cutting spending and balancing the budget, surely they'd support reallocating the handouts to Big Oil and using the funds to help balance the budget?Nope. Here's the Times' report:

With high gas prices and rising federal deficits in the political spotlight, senior Democrats believe that tying the two together will put pressure on Senate Republicans to support the measure or face a difficult time explaining their opposition to voters whose family budgets are being strained by fuel prices.
But today, it's become clear that it's going to be all but impossible to push the measure through the Senate. Top "moderate" Republicans -- and even some "moderate" Democrats -- are already saying that they'll oppose such a plan, calling it a potentially harmful increase in taxes (which is hardly true).

Why? Primarily because the need to secure campaign financing and industry support -- trumps any dedication to ideological consistency. The Democrats that oppose the measure are nearly all from oil-producing states 'Tis the sad truth.

And it's not like the Democrats are noble champions of the cause or anything -- they were originally planning to use the subsidies to fund clean energy development, which would have been a worthy investment. Now, they've maneuvered the measure to try to put the GOP in a tight spot (the whole deficit-reducing strategy), but lopping of $21 billion in subsidies over ten years won't exactly change much of anything in the long run. It's a drop in the bucket. That said, it's a start -- private oil companies shouldn't be getting subsidies at all. We have better uses for taxpayer revenue.

More on Oil Subsidies
Hidden Oil Subsidies : We Need to END Them
House Reps Squash Effort to End Oil Subsidies After Raking in $8.7 Billion from Big Oil

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