GOP knocks Democratic proposal to cut oil company tax breaks
February 8th, 2011
07:18 PM ET
12 years ago

GOP knocks Democratic proposal to cut oil company tax breaks

Washington (CNN) - Senate Democrats faced criticism Tuesday for urging House Republicans to cut "taxpayer-funded handouts to big oil companies" less than a week after several Democrats joined Republicans to defeat a Senate amendment that would have made similar cuts.

"Errr, this is a little embarrassing," said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in an e-mail blasted to Capitol Hill reporters.

Steel blamed Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, who leads the message operation for Senate Democrats, for the apparent oversight.

Schumer and other Democrats, including the other three top Democratic leaders, sent a letter to Boehner Tuesday suggesting House Republicans do away with tax breaks for oil companies as part of the Republicans' ongoing effort to scrub wasteful spending and cut the deficit.

"We are concerned that some of the cuts you may propose could undermine future growth just as our economy is beginning to recover," said the Democrats' letter. "Instead, we urge you to consider ending a number of tax loopholes and other subsidies that benefit big oil and gas companies."

However, six politically centrist Senate Democrats voted against paring back "unjustified tax expenditures related to oil and gas production by large oil companies," in the words of amendment sponsor Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, when he proposed it last week to cover the cost of repealing part of the health care reform law.

Republicans argued a repeal of the subsides would amount to a tax hike on the oil companies.

"So Sen. Schumer is suggesting that the Republican House should pass job-destroying tax hikes that even the Democrat-controlled Senate doesn't support?" Steel asked.

"We understand Sen. Schumer has sent a letter over to Republicans today, indicating the need to cut spending," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell confidently told a bank of television cameras in the Capitol. "We don't really believe you cut spending by raising taxes."

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement late Tuesday accusing Republicans of defending "government giveaways to their buddies at big oil companies making billions in profits" and asked why Republicans would take cuts in subsidies to oil companies off the table. The statement didn't mention the six centrist Democrats who last week voted against canceling the tax breaks.

Filed under: Charles Schumer • Congress
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    No surprise here. The republican apologists to big oil will get their checks delivered to them tomorrow in the halls of congress.

    February 8, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  2. Nadeem

    This is a common sense proposal, stop subsidizing yesterday's energy

    February 8, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  3. Nadeem

    Can you say corporate welfare

    February 8, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. Oregon Native

    The GOP seems more than slightly disengenuous about budget cuts, don't they? Especially those that might impact big business, big oil, the wealthy, wall street, or the banks.

    Who in their right mind thinks that big oil needs taxpayer-funded subsidies (aka corporate welfare)?? Give me a break.

    February 8, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    This ought to make the glue sniffing bagger party very happy.

    February 8, 2011 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  6. David

    The GOP are a joke, they would rather give tax breaks to companies who are raking in billions in profits than divert the money to the middle class; the GOP are corporate slaves.

    February 8, 2011 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  7. deuce

    Who's raising taxes? We're talking about dumping tax breaks and getting these companies to pay what they should actually be paying. The horror, I know...

    February 8, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  8. annie s

    Well, of course republicans wouldn't want oil companies to be taxed fairly! However, this entire article is written with an unfair slant. Because 6 Democrats voted not to pay for the repeal of a 1099 reporting provision in the bill does not necessarily mean all 6 would be against closing the loopholes in a way to reduce our deficit.

    February 8, 2011 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. diridi

    GOP is nothing but nonsense in America.....just idiots....o.k.

    February 8, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. one voice

    The Corporations and the rich have been getting a FREE RIDE for TOO LONG. It's time they PULL THEIR WEIGHT.

    February 8, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. juliei4

    How about keeping tax breaks in place for businesses that expand their work forces by a certain percentage and if you don't and your financials say you can afford to, no more tax breaks for you.

    Why is it that the GOP thinks the same tax cuts, tax breaks, etc. passed in the Bush administration that got us into this mess while fighting two wars will work to get us out of it. Something different has to be done. If some cutting is made everywhere and not just on the programs that help people, I am willing to go back to the tax rates before the cuts. So my husband and I pay a couple of hundred dollars more a month in taxes. We won't starve. The good news is that going back to those tax rates would add only a couple of bucks a month to the lower middle class and below because that is all they realized in those big deal tax cuts of the GOP.

    February 8, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  12. Columbia

    Lets see the Republicans want big OIl to have all the tax cuts for what reason
    They are making records profts raising the price of gas each day on a lot of us that are hardly making enough to feed our familes
    So their for cutting social security, cutting Health Care, everything that has anything for the middle class or poor
    but no cuts for the Rich big business, big oil , wall street, bankers just more tax cuts for the ones that are providing nothing but profts for the Rich and powerful. the Koch Brothers are laughing all the way to the bank of course its an off shore bank

    February 8, 2011 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. Reed Forrester

    "Republicans argued a repeal of the subsides would amount to a tax hike on the oil companies."

    We *spend* hundreds of billions defending the oil companies with our armed forces. Why not let them pay for the war in Iraq instead? I think that would be fair.

    February 8, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  14. Reed Forrester

    "a repeal of the subsides would amount to a tax hike on the oil companies."

    We *spend* hundreds of billions defending the oil companies with our armed forces. Why not let them pay for the war in Iraq instead? I think that would be more than fair.

    February 8, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  15. T'sah from Virginia

    Not on the RepubliCAN'T's Soil you’ll Toil
    With cutting Defense and/or tax breaks for OIL
    Too much $$$$$$$$$$$$$ tied up in that
    In their back-pockets – Can't touch that Democrats!!

    They cry that the cuts will be a "job-destroying ACT
    But as always they never prove that as a FACT
    But is it JOBS that the PUBS want to FIND?
    NOPE – DADT and health care reform they want to UNWIND!
    Even though – they know – this is a NO GO – and job creation will not GROW!!

    February 8, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. Bill from GA

    Let's cut Social Security and Medicare for all retirees, including our parents living on a fixed income; cut funds for education and highways; but don't touch the giveaways to oil companies. They may cut dividends if their astronomical profits are not secure.

    Between gutless Democrats and evil, heartless repugs, our country is going down fast. Third-world status is just around the corner, and without our middle class consumers, we'll drag the world down with us.

    February 8, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  17. John

    Yep. Those Republicans just gotta go give a lotta money to the oil companies. It's their duty, see?

    February 8, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. Michael Lewis


    In 1977 Representative Benjamin Rosenthal of New York produced secret Internal Revenue Service documents going back to 1950. They showed that the tax laws of Saudi Arabia were drafted with the help of Aramco to call the added price of oil not a "royalty" or "cost of doing business," as was proper, but an income tax." The Saudis did this knowing that income tax paid to a foreign country is deductible from the income taxes an oil company pays the United States on all income received in the United States by the parent firm. From The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian
    "This plan was approved in secret session of the National Security Council and carried out without any request for authorization by Congress. A quarter of a century later, when members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee un-earthed details, the source of the king's added income had become too self-evident for comment." From Oil Power The Rise and Fall of An American Empire by Carl Solberg

    "Essential to the deal was a renegotiation of Aramco's royalties, most of which were now called taxes. These were increased to a level equal to half the company's expected profits for the year. The amount of the rise just happened to equal the income taxes the company had been paying to the U.S. Treasury. Thus, by a transfer to the Saudis of a sum that would henceforth have to be made up to the U.S. government by its taxpayers, the 12. progressive fitly-fifty profit-split plan was introduced to the Eastern Hemisphere, and the lord of the world's richest oil pools was bound over to the United States as never before: the Saudi monarchy became outspoken in its anticommunism." From pgs. 193-196 Oil Power The Rise and Fall of An American Empire by Carl Solberg 1976 paperback

    "This practice, perfected in Saudi Arabia, was quickly adopted elsewhere. Eventually, every oil-producing nation where American companies had a concession enacted an income tax law to increase its oil revenue by tapping the foreign tax credit provision of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code." From pgs. 183-190 America: Who Really Pays The Taxes by Donald L.Barlett & James B. Steele paperback
    "Since that time the major multinational U.S. oil companies have paid hardly a penny of U.S. income tax on their foreign income." page130 BANKS BORROWERS, AND THE ESTABLISHMENT

    February 8, 2011 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  19. TB

    What? The oil company CEOs are not making enough money in compensation and bonuses yet? Is this why they still need those, breaks?

    February 8, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    It figures. Only the GOP would defend a tax cut to companies that have earned billions and sat on it while the country is mired in a recession as " job-killing". The oil companies made the decision not to release their funds and put people back to work because of the goodies the GOP promised them, not because of anything the Dems did. Only the GOP would defend corporate inaction, and accuse the closing of tax loophole as job killing. Are the Koch Brothers really that out of touch?

    February 8, 2011 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  21. Question

    Who were the six 'centrist' Democrats?

    February 8, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  22. MM

    Republicans will stand by their motto of you never bite the hand that feeds you.

    February 8, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  23. Clwyd

    It shouldn't be embarrassing for republicans to be giving oil industry handouts. They have been doing it for all the other Bigs! Big Business, Big Wall Street, Big Insurance and Big Oil! America, now corporate owned and run!

    February 8, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  24. ASingh

    Somebody please tell me why oil companies with the record profits that they are making should get any subsidies at all, especially if we are looking for the deficit. Why are republicans always against any thing that makes common sense?

    February 8, 2011 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |