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May 11, 2011

Oil Company Subsidies

[Page: S2816]  GPO's PDF 


Mr. REID. Madam President, saving money requires a lot of very difficult choices: Which programs do we cut in these tough times? Which priorities are more important than others? As we have seen in the Senate and across the country over the last few months, a lot of people have a lot of different answers to these questions.

Democrats believe we have to get our spending under control, and we have to look at what needs to be cut. But we need to have a fair program, one that looks at what we are going to do long term with the equities of our spending programs. We have to look at what we do with revenues to make sure they are fair and balanced. So there are a lot of choices.

My friend, the Speaker of the House, gave a speech last night in New York. He talked about raising the debt limit and some of the things he thinks would be necessary in order to get that done. But I would direct the attention of my friend, the Speaker, to one way it would go very quickly to solving some of these problems. We know there is waste in the Federal budget and the Tax Code, but what I want to direct the attention of my friend, the Speaker, to is these five big oil companies.

We, as taxpayers, are giving billions and billions of dollars every year to these companies--billions every year. Every cent of it is taxpayer money to oil companies that already are more than successful.

These oil companies made $36 billion in profits during the first quarter of this year. I repeat that: $36 billion in profits during the first quarter of this year. ExxonMobil alone made 70 percent more this year than they did last year. Exxon holds the record for making more than any corporation in the history of our country in years past. These oil companies, I repeat, made $36 billion in the first quarter.

The industry's $36 billion in quarterly profits means they are making about $12 billion a month or $4 billion a week, and yet the U.S. Government is giving these companies billions of dollars in corporate welfare every year. That is unnecessary. Why are taxpayers on the hook for oil companies that are doing just fine on their own?

If we are serious about reducing the deficit, what an easy place to start, I say to my friend, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is a no-brainer. Let's use these savings from these taxpayer giveaways to drive down the deficit, not drive up the profits of oil companies.

We need to make one thing very clear: Wasteful subsidies have nothing to do with gas prices. These oil handouts have existed for decades. Prices have continued to rise. Oil executives' paychecks have also continued to rise.

In the State of Alaska they are paying $8 or $9 a gallon for gasoline. In the State of California, there are places where you pay as much as $5 a gallon for gasoline. Here at an Exxon station along the waterfront, I looked out the other day, and the gas prices there were within a few cents of being $5 a gallon. That is in our Nation's Capital. So that money Americans are paying at the pump is not related to those subsidies I have talked about, but those profits are proof enough they do not need them. The companies do not need those subsidies. Even big oil CEOs, such as the head of Shell, and Republicans in Congress--even my friend, the Speaker--have said on occasion these subsidies are not necessary.

Some of our conservative colleagues have a hard time stomaching giving a hand to those who need it the most. But we should all agree--in the interest of fairness, common sense, and saving taxpayer money--that we cannot continue with this corporate welfare to those big oil companies that need it the least. That is a good place to start.

[Page: S2817]  GPO's PDF
(Senate - May 10, 2011)

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