Photo via CO2 Post
We've heard this one before; Obama threatening to sever subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. He called for ending the subsidies during his SOTU, and was doing so even before that. Now, he's proposing that $36 billion worth of those subsidies for oil and $2.3 billion for coal (both get $70 billion a year in total) get stripped from the budget--which would be great. Too bad special interests will almost certainly keep this from happening. I know, it seems like a no-brainer--and it should be. Why, exactly, do we need to be spending billions of dollars a year to help the biggest companies in the world make billions of dollars? And yes, as reductive as that statement appears, that is precisely what's going on. Taxpayer money goes toward giving oil companies tax breaks, deductions for drilling, and other expenses--even though companies like Exxon have posted record earnings in the last couple years.
So, cut out the billions of taxpayer dollars going to oil and coal companies, right? Easy peasy. We could use the $70 billion towards any number of pressing matters--job creation, clean energy development, education, ad so on?
But no. In one of the clearest-cut cases of special interests having a stranglehold on Washington, it's unlikely anything will change. Dave Roberts explains:
Note that fossil fuels get $70.2 billion a year in subsidies--and that excludes implicit subsidies like unpriced carbon and military spending--so this is the tip of the iceberg. Of course, modest efforts to remove fossil-fuel subsidies are inevitably portrayed by fossil shills as "raising taxes," and such efforts have failed in Congress many times before, so this one gets filed under, uh, aspirational.Sure enough, oil bosses are already complaining that removing the subsidy would 'slow domestic development', saying that it's contrary to what Obama promised to do in his State of the Union.
Cry me a f*%&ing; river. The wealthiest, biggest, most well-established companies in the world (Exxon's income is bigger than most nation's entire GDP) can afford to pay for exploration and drilling costs themselves--and they sure as hell don't need tax breaks. They can afford to make a few billion dollars less at our expense. If only Congress had the spine to make it so.