2011-08-17

Last night on CNN, President Obama responded to Mitt Romney’s position that “corporations are people,” and singled out oil and gas corporations – identifying them as companies and not people who deserve government handouts.

“Well, if you tell me that corporations are vital to American life, that the free-enterprise system has been the greatest wealth creator that we’ve ever seen, that their corporate CEOs and folks who are working in our large companies that are creating incredible products and services and that is all to the benefit of the United States of America, that I absolutely agree with,” the president said.

“If, on the other hand, you tell me that every corporate tax break that’s out there is somehow good for ordinary Americans, that we have a tax code that’s fair, that asking oil and gas companies, for example, not to get special exemptions that other folks don’t get, and that if we’re closing those tax loopholes somehow that that is going to hurt America, then that I disagree with. “

These are the same loopholes that Big Oil has been lobbying to protect. The industry has done a good job of influencing Congress to preserve the $15 billion in corporate welfare they get while programs that help everyday Americans, such as Medicare, are starving for government support.

Even as a deficit spending crisis loomed over the nation, closing tax loopholes and ending subsidies to Big Oil were a non-starter for Congress. As we previously reported, at the height of the deficit ceiling debate – when asked, Sen. Barrasso (R-WY) would not vote down government handouts to oil and gas. Instead, he called for mass overhaul of the United States tax code.

The market has demonstrated it is time for subsidies to end. Contrary to its claims of needing corporate welfare, Big Oil has enough cash to invest heavily in the newly formed Super Committee. According to OpenSecrets, the six Republicans on the committee have collected a total of $1,029,024 in oil and gas contributions in the 2010 and 2012 cycles. The six Democrats have taken in $308,950 in oil and gas money.