Tuesday night’s vote in the Senate was telling. The vote was on a motion to proceed on S. 90, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act. If the bill had passed, over the next 10 years $21 billion taxpayer dollars would have stopped flowing into Big Oil’s bank accounts. Instead, that money would have been used to help pay down our national deficit.
It seems like a slam dunk. The top five oil and gas companies made a combined $32 billion in profit the first quarter of this year. In just three months, five companies made so much money that even after they were done paying their employees and their overhead costs and all their bills, they still had $32 billion left. And then those companies turned to the American people, the same people who paid that $32 billion, one $4 gallon of gas at a time, and cried financial distress and said they need billions more.
The American people didn’t believe them. A recent poll shows 74% of Americans want to end Big Oil tax breaks. But some Washington politicians believed Big Oil. To be exact, 48 senators who have received a total of $21 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry believed them. Another 52 senators didn’t believe Big Oil needs billions in tax dollars, maybe that’s because those senators only received $7 million from oil and gas companies.
And no, those numbers aren’t backward. The motion passed by a simple majority, but did not have enough support to overcome a filibuster.
Tuesday night’s senate vote was a sad commentary on the priorities of our elected officials. It shows that even in the face to overwhelming popular opinion, some of them will continue to support the corporate masters who fill their campaign accounts.