• May 19, 2011
As expected, a Democratic bill that would have put an end to the multi-billion-dollar annual tax subsidies for oil companies Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil failed to overcome a Republican filibuster on Tuesday evening. The heavily partisan 52-in-favor, 48-against vote, fell eight shy of the 60 required to bring the bill to the floor.

If passed, the bill would have eliminated $12 billion in subsidies for production of oil within the U.S. and cut $6 billion in credits for taxes that oil companies pay to foreign governments. Finally, the bill would have put an end to oil companies writing off some drilling and development costs.

According to the Huffington Post, Republicans say that the bill unfairly singles out oil companies and would hinder their ability to hire American workers, thus leading to reduced oil production and increased dependence on foreign oil. Democrats argue that subsidies are unnecessary given that oil companies typically report profits in the multi-billion dollar range.

Three Democrats – Mary Landrieu (D-LA, pictured), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Ben Nelson (D-NE) – voted with Republicans to maintain the subsidies, while Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) sided with the Democrats.

As this chart – based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics – shows, the 48 senators who voted with the oil industry received over $21 million in oil-related contributions, while the 52 senators who voted to eliminate subsidies received a mere $5.4 million. Looks like money talks.

[Source: Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post | Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images]


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  • 55 Comments
      Ben Crockett
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a lost opportunity to end wasteful outdated subsidies and tax breaks in a time of need of reducing the US Federal Budget deficit. I ran some quick numbers to see just how much ‘bang for buck’ was received from the oil subsidies / tax breaks and was amazed at the numbers. Considering that per wiki the US “proven oil reserves” are only 19,120,000,000 or 1.37% of global reserves. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_proven_oil_reserves Consider further that the subsidy / tax breaks amount to $US 18,000,000,000 per annum (per this article) this would represent a $0.94 per US domestic barrel of oil subsidy / tax break (assuming constant reserve supply). Doesn’t sound like much, but of course: 1/ US reserve supply isn’t constant; 2/ Subsidies / tax breaks go for more than one year; 3/ Subsidies / tax breaks would likely not all be spent on domestic production and even if they were this represents only 1.37% of global reserves. So the true cost of the subsidies / tax breaks would be much much higher and wasteful, particularly given that domestic production does not influence to any significance degree global oil prices.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      if Obama wasn't so pathetic he would take it to the people and show them what republicans are
      lne937s
      • 3 Years Ago
      Really, the Senate didn't vote it down. They just blocked it by not having the 60 votes needed to bring it to a vote. The Democrats let the Republican drilling bill come to a vote (even though that was defeated) the least the Republicans could do is let it be voted on, in which chase a simple majority would pass it.
      Randy C
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a crock of $**t. I wonder how many bribes the oil companies paid out to keep this gravy train running? The oil companies are making record profits during this time of high oil prices. The barrel of oil goes up 20 cents they up the price of gas 40 cents the next day. When the price of oil goes down it takes them months to lower the price of gas. They will use any excuse to raise the price of gas whether or not event actually took place. The oils companies don't need any subsidies. Their profit margin is high enough that they can pay for it themselves. I could see providing subsidies if they were loosing money but they're not!
      Refz
      • 3 Years Ago
      You'll pay at the pump either way. The only answer is electric. Vote with your purchase of an EV.
      Marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      It was always going to be difficult defending the economy from vandals with poorly thought out ideas and mob mentality chants. Consider, what would occur if the leftists and crazies got their way? Remove oil company subsidies. The oil companies simply move offshore or lack the profits to risk US exploration. The result, less oil and higher prices, since all oil will now be foreign. So EV's should do very well? Not in reality, because the nation will be in deep recession, lacking the capital to develop new industries or technologies, and requiring the taxpayer to bear the full burden of retirees on an unprecedented scale. More tax, less productivity. As the US economy begins to slide, exporters to the US start to fail, the PRC ramps up It's cheapest energy resource, coal, to compensate. (that's great for the environment) A world economic recession begins to hit home hard. That's the scenario, the anti-oil, anti-capitalists salivate to create. From the chaos, the socialist hopes for power. But, instead of Nirvana, a dictatorship of the incompetent arises. Strong economies, and confident investment will produce EV transport, not the baying of simplistic mobs. Thank God, some government leaders can understand the complexities.
        Spiffster
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Lol, that sounds like one hell of a solid business model they are running! You think they are gonna just stop business in the US when we currently have one of the largest oil reserves in the world? Besides the bill just targets big oil, the smaller more efficient oil companies will keep their subsidies anyway. This end of the world scenario you speak of is nonsense. This was CLEARLY a result of corrupt politics. You really think these clowns "can understand the complexities."? All they can understand is that there is no money to be made in ending big oil subsidies.
        nmuwildcat65
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Wow?!?! You drank all the Kool-Aid didn't you? Oil subsidies are nothing but a flat tax on all citizens. It benefits those who use a lot of oil. Removing the subsidy would do none of what your simple fear based mind believes. It would raise the price of oil no doubt, and would hurt those who use a lot of oil. It would benefit those who do not. Being the tax they are paying on oil subsides would go away.
          Marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @nmuwildcat65
          You have a very simplistic view on tax. Oil profits fund 61% of retiree super funds. removal of oil profits would cripple the income of more than 22% of the most vulnerable citizens in the US. Where does the money come from to replace that loss? (about 420 billion) The taxpayer! 12 billion suddenly looks cheap. The US oil industry contributes over a trillion dollars (or 8.4 % of GDP), to the US economy, and you quibble over 12 billion subsidy. US oil surplus revenues fund 58% of all risk investment capital. The problem is not whether or not to pay the subsidy, but what to do when oil revenue finally ceases to fund the most difficult parts of the US economy.
        Dave D
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        You crack me up. First the Republicans freak out when all the "leftists and crazies" try to get involved and "redistribute the wealth" but when you talk about your oil SH|T, then you're perfectly ok with Gov't supporting it, picking a winner, redistributing everyone else's wealth to prop it up, and any other BULL$HIT euphimism you can come up with...to support the oil industry. Good old conservative hypocritical BS. Conservative stopped meaning a certain fiscal view of the world a long time ago. Now it means whatever the already rich can do to screw everyone else and get even richer....all in the name of God, consevative values and America! All we need is a picture of some apple pie and we can all bow down and worship your brilliance. What happened to all that good old FREE MARKET thinking? Why can't the big oil idiots just charge for what it costs to produce their product and people paid for it or went for something cheaper? Wow, suddenly ethanol might look like one hell of a deal without subsidies as well! You are so full of crap dude. You think they would really stop digging for oil here? It cost a frigging fortune to go anyplace left on earth. Deepwater drilling cost a hell of a lot more than it would take to drill what little bit of oil is left in the US. And that whole crap about pension funds? What,? Big Oil is the only industry in the world that they could invest in? They couldn't move their funds over to electric utilities or some hedge fund tied to Goldman Sachs (the only crooks on the planet that make Big Oil look like Girl Scouts)? You act like all that pension money would just disappear! It would evaporate right in front of our eyes like magic!!! They couldn't move it to something else, it would just be gone the next day! Pathetic BS. It just gets moved to some other crap that is screwing us over. And Big Oil wouldn't even lose anything. They MIGHT lose 2% of their PROFIT...not like they are going to go under or anything. And their accountants would just exploit yet some other loophole and at the end of the day we'd just end up paying them back more money at tax time for all the terrible things we did to them ROFLMFAO!!!!! Screw them.
        Noz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        I think I'm beginning to believe POLO is simply a stupid shill paid to troll the internet and babble complete utter bullsh&t.
      paulwesterberg
      • 3 Years Ago
      We have the best senators oil money can buy: http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/Book14_4/Sheet1?:embed=y&:tabs=no&:display_static_image=yes&:toolbar=yes&:display_spinner=yes&:animate_transition=yes&:display_overlay=yes&:host_url=http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      if Obama wasn't so pathetic he would take it to the people and show them what republicans are
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Bush is deserving of the word pathetic, not Obama, Despite Obamas centrist apprach, he is actually do some things to spark green tech. Let's be realistic.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 3 Years Ago
          no, Bush was far worse than pathetic. those cats are hitler level evil. I'm being quite realistics. you are being naive.
          Sean Francis-Lyon
          • 3 Years Ago
          Dan, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust I'm no fan of Bush, but really? "hitler level evil"?
          Noz
          • 3 Years Ago
          Jim, You're not getting my point...my point is not to criticize Obama himself as a person...but he's just a puppet and held accountable to serve the corps just as much as anyone else. Granted, he may not be a drunken, rightwing dullard who can't think but he's at mercy to the money makers.
        Noz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Thank God I don't have it on my conscience for not voting for the puppet Obama....pathetic.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Noz
          what is your point? the repubs voted in favor of big oil. obama had nothing to do with it. are you stupid, racist or both?
          Noz
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Noz
          My point is this administration is the crap as the one before it.
          Noz
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Noz
          Yes I am Polo you dumba$$....I know you're not though right? You probably voted for that slimy pile of cow sh%t Harper right?
          Marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Noz
          How could you vote for Obama, you are not a US citizen!
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      http://www.350.org/sites/all/files/blogs/1/350-subsidies-drilling-infographic.jpg Why does a monopolistic cartel need subsidies? But lets cut funding to NPR, Planned Parenthood, NASA...It looks like some anti-tax group was taken over by a right-wing agenda. Were is the 30-50% cut in the DOD? Cutting these subsidies and rising logging fees? Increasing the gas tax? Why isn't there a left-wing Green running against Obama in the primary? The Tea Party gets away with running against the Republican in the primary instead of splitting votes in the general election at the end...
        Marcopolo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        Ryan, the reason there isn't a left-wing green candidate running for office in the US, is because they couldn't win. The Tea Party are also pretty silly, and appeal to a very small minority of voters, they will soon disappear. The 'green' movement is very split into many factions, most of whom are at war with one another! This is because economic policy is really difficult to implement if you approach it from a moral, ideological, or impractical stance. It's much easier to be against something, than actually say what you would do, and watch your concept dissected by the cold light of realism. That what disillusions most idealists about politics, is the harsh reality of dealing with the consequences, as opposed to simple theory.
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          I do not concur with your to big to fail view of oil dependence Marcopolo. Oil will find other ways to invest to make profits, they purchased 50% of the natural gas reserves in America looking for there next big bonanza. In every instance the large corps hold this same view. It was this way with the Banks, oil corps, food industry, etc... In every instance they want to blackmail the public and the public's government by threatening the collapse of the country if they are not allowed to run shot gun over the economy. In Andrew Jackson's time the banks tried to do the same thing. Andrew didn't fall for there blackmail scheme and the banks were seriously regulated and some were closed by the government. The economy did just fine.
      JakeY
      • 3 Years Ago
      Predictable. That's why there's those people who keep calling to end other subsidies (in the name of ending "all" subsidies). They know that oil subsidies are highly unlikely to be eliminated, so the only subsidies eliminated will be the ones that are alternatives.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Cut money to green tech. Continue giving oil companies ludacris amounts of money. The Republican way.
      Bill Fracalossi
      • 3 Years Ago
      George Carlin said it best:"The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying ­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else."    "But I'll tell you what they don't want.  They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting ****** by a system that threw them overboard 30 ******* years ago.    "You know what they want? Obedient workers people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your ******* retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this f$$$ place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club."   "This country is finished."
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