Senate Democrats call oil execs to testify on subsidies
May 6th, 2011
04:56 PM ET
3 years ago

Senate Democrats call oil execs to testify on subsidies

(CNN) - Senate Democrats are calling oil and gas industry executives to testify next week about the billions of dollars they get in tax subsidies at the same time they are earning enormous profits and consumers are facing steep price hikes at the pumps.

Democrats also will seek a vote on legislation to block the subsidies to the largest oil companies and use the savings to either fund clean energy programs or reduce the deficit, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

The moves come as the Republican controlled House is pushing through a series of bills – supported by the oil industry – to open up additional drilling in the U.S. that stalled after the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Now is not the time to stand idly by while large oil and gas companies get billions in tax breaks," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee which will hold the hearing next week.

Senate Republican leaders have repeatedly opposed efforts to repeal the subsidies, arguing oil companies will make up the losses through higher prices on consumers.

In a speech in Indianapolis Friday, President Obama argued that the U.S. can't drill its way out of its energy crisis and slammed the tax breaks the big oil companies get.

Democratic aides said they would not release the names of the executives who will testify until their witness list is finalized, probably next week.


Filed under: Energy • Max Baucus • Senate Democrats
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Republican Robber Baron

    Yes but let's not just single-out Big Oil...Congress has been getting virtual bribes from other powerful lobbyists for decades.
    Many other lobbyists hustle Congress to write legislation to also give their specific Corporations or Industries similar perks.
    This is just the tip of iceberg. We shouldn't make Big Oil the boogeyman because the problem is much more worse than just their special perks.

    Please let's get serious about ending the ridiculous waste in Corporate Welfare and subsidies. All businesses should be paying the same rates, nobody should be getting special favors for a favor. Don't even get me started with the individual tax rates either. Some millionaires pay ZERO tax because they get to write-off everything by manipulating the tax code with their tax lawyers and creative accounting. That's got to stop as well.

    May 6, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. ITALIAN NONNO

    I like this,.. get the ball rolling on an inquiry,..Full speed ahead with alternative energy programs,.. and we don't want to hear any whining, lies, and fear mongering from the Republicans and the oil lobbyists

    May 6, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. JOANNE OWENS

    I have an idea, if this comes to pass, how about lowering gas prices..............

    May 6, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. Steve Jackson

    Yes go ahead and have your horse and pony show with the oil companies the real people know it's all show and no go oil companies put too much money in the pockets of the senators house and other top government people you all are anti-american and selling the America people OUT government show boating lock the big oil companies TOP people up put there families out on the streets like they have so many families

    May 6, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  5. Darko

    either fund clean energy programs or reduce the deficit...

    Let's not kid ourselves on where they're going to shovel that cash!

    May 6, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. Thankfully Independent

    Well we certainly would not expect the Republicans to address this travesty. They would rather cut and destroy Medicare, the NPR, Planned Parenthood etc., rather than cut subsidies to their rich, oil baron donors.

    May 6, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. Darko

    Oil companies make billions in profits because every single family in America and billions world wide use their product. The subsidies for alternatives and exploration hardly make up for the mountains of govt red tape that they have to cut through to get their product to market.

    May 6, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. jamison

    The oil companies have raped the American people long enough. The government needs to STOP giving them any more $$ passed under old outdated laws. I think making several BILLION in the first quarter is profit enough.

    May 6, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. ja

    do the right thing stop the subsidies, no testimony is needed, crunch the numbers, grow some backbone to hell with the campaign contributions you may loose, or charge windfall profit taxes

    May 6, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Michael

    WHEN the oil execs lie under oath, I hope they nail them for it & give them a suite in the same hotel as Madoff, with a retirement package of three hot ones a day and 1/2 hour extra use of the basketball court for good behavior.

    May 6, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. NVa Native

    We don't need to hear more lies from Republicans (oil execs in this case) in front of cameras.
    We are sick of it. Stop the tax subsidies for the oil companies along with the ultra rich sleazy Koch Bros, Limbaugh, Pat Robertson types.
    These greedy people are so rich they can buy our GOP politicians and five out of four Supreme Court Justices. They don't deserve (or need) tax hand-outs too!

    May 6, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. a guy

    the problem with these subsidies is that they keep oil prices artificially low. your and my tax dollars go to pay for the subsidies and then we pay for it at the pump too. so cutting the subsidies would in fact put more stress on those who drive the most, which i would guess wouldn't be those of us who are low income and use public transportation. So i'm all for it. Cut the subsidies, what is the point in the government subsidity on an industry the regularly post billions in profits. Exxon's profits went up 69% because the price per barrell went up.

    May 6, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  13. V in Chicago

    See how fast the prices at the pump fall once these people are summoned to Capitol Hill. . .

    May 6, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  14. they call me "tater salad"

    Don't fool yourselves, a lot of our elected officials enjoy and benefit from those huge profits just as much as Big Oil does.......They just do a good job of hiding it!...........This is nothing more than political theater designed to create the illusion of genuine concern for the little guy! Nothing more, nothing less................Enjoy the show!

    May 6, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. Lori in St Pete

    Darko, the $4B a year in tax subsidies granted to big oil would go a long way toward alternative energy. Sooner or later the oil WILL run out. Doesn't it make more sense to have a viable alternative in place BEFORE that happens? BTW, Alaska is an oil producing/refining state. They have some of the highest gasoline prices in the nation. What's up with that?

    May 6, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. rusty155

    let stop the tax subsidies and they do something good with It. Tell The Republican enough Is Enough. American people are feed up with the Republican looking out for the RICH and BIG BUSINESS and the OIL COMPANY. The Republican and the TEA PARTY have to go In 2012. As many as we can In Congress and In the Senate. You can also tell the Republican there TV ad that say no energy taxes Is Full Of Crap.

    May 6, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. Moab

    I will let you in on a little secret. Oil execs could care less. Its a big joke. These are not PR companies but for profit entities and unless they are subpoenaed they will most likely tell Max Baucus any other loser politician to pound sand. They are too busy making money and propping up the beat down Obama economy to waste time with those hacks. Either that or they send out the jr league execs to feed the sharks.

    May 6, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. gt

    natural gas.... is the answer.... its not these oil men its wall street.... who are driving up the pump....

    May 6, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  19. T'sah from Virginia

    BIG oil companies and/or any other BIG corporations PROFITS "should NOT" exceed their subsidies................PERIOD!!! If it does – Give the subsidies back!!!

    May 6, 2011 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. Ancient Texan

    NVa Native and rusty155- President Obama got much more money from oil companies in the 2008 elections than McCain did. In fact DP was one of Obama's biggest contributors. The tax subsidy is a depletion allowance and if revoked, the price at the pump will go up to offset it.

    May 6, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  21. Indy

    Lori in St Pete
    It does not matter that Alaska is an energy producing state, countries that produce do not have control of prices on the world market, just look at Canada that sends most of their fuel to the US but now pays $6.00 a gallon. What always amazes me is that the Republicans lie so much about everything and they have people believing that the US politicians can do something about the worldwide high pricing of fuel. If the producing countries currently pay more then the US how is a politicain or President going to bring down prices. The Government has much less power in bringing prices down then the average person does by using less fuel. I know that sucks but it is true and every country that invests in alternative energy will be the economic leaders of the world. For those who want to drill more and not seek alternative energy will be left in the dust financially. Obama has the right idea by investing large in the future but the Government in the end does not have much they can do about the price of fuel and we seem to forget this is a worldwide problem not just the US.

    May 6, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  22. Oy Vey Az

    We've already heard about their outrageous CEO salaries ... What more could the Senate want? ... How about some jail time for the Oil and Banking execs?

    May 6, 2011 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  23. Thankfully Independent

    Maybe these senators should get the oil companies to build more refineries first, before they get subsidies and more drilling rights. We can't expect the McConnell and the Grand Oil Party to rein these clowns in.

    May 6, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  24. trex

    I would go to war to make sure these multi national corporations PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 6, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    They cannot have it both ways....reaping ginormous profits at the same time enjoying the subsidies of socialism. Either private all the way, or nationalize our oil industry. The bums. If the CEOs were making 300,000$ a year, that is one thing. But salaries and bonuses of gazillions is wrong while receiving subsidies and we, the peons having to loose Head Start, health care, infrastructure dollars, education, etc etc....those subsides are revenue that is going into their pockets at the country's lose. Wrong. So wrong. Let them eat Yellow Cake....

    May 6, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |