Oil companies are reaping massive profits and skirting taxes (with the help of fossil-fuel-friendly politicians) while the U.S. is in a debt crisis. Is that fair?
While the general public suffers through very difficult economic times and the threat of government shutdowns, the oil industry is reaping good profits, monumental profits. In the past decade, as the US has lost a tremendous number of jobs, the 5 biggest oil companies have brought in nearly $5 trillion in profits. With gas prices rising, Exxon and others have been bringing in more and more.
Well, on the one hand, you might just say: "Good for them, they've done well at exploiting the oil in our earth and satisfying a national addiction and have succeeded in a capitalistic world." But there's one rather important thing I haven't mention yet.... These oil companies are reaping hefty rewards on the backs of the American people. They enjoy huge tax breaks while U.S. infrastructure is crumbling and Americans are out of jobs.
Of course, the public, getting word of this, has been pretty unsupportive. Why should companies making billions, or even trillions, not have to pay taxes? It's a good question. While every poll I've seen on the matter has shown that the public doesn't support these tax loopholes, though, Republicans in Congress (and even a few Democrats) have done everything they could to keep these loopholes in place... so, they still are.
Leading Environmental Organizations Call for an End to Oil & Gas Tax Breaks
12 leading green organizations, fed up with all of this in the midst of our debt crises, have sent an open letter to Congressional leaders Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John A. Boehner, and Nancy Pelosi. The point of the letter is that while we dig ourselves out of the massive debt we've accumulated over the last decade or so, we should focus on cutting tax breaks that help companies which are increasing global warming, threatening numerous endangered plant species and animal species, and harming the American public. Here's the intro:
As you begin work to set up the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that will recommend further federal savings under the Budget Control Act of 2011, we are writing on behalf of our millions of members to emphasize that any deficit deal must represent a balanced approach that focuses both on cutting wasteful subsidies that harm the public interest and raising significant revenues. Any other approach is quite simply a decision to dismember vital programs that keep our air clean, our water safe to drink, and preserve our natural heritage.
One area where Congress should support reforms that would benefit the American people is by reducing environmentally destructive and economically distorting subsidies. These unnecessary subsidies, which are found both in spending programs and the tax code, harm public health and our natural resources while doling out hard-earned taxpayer dollars to mature industries that need no government assistance. There is no rationale for continuing these subsidies at a time when middle- and lower-income Americans are being asked to make sacrifices and when all federal
spending is being subjected to deep cuts.
Well said. The whole letter is worth a read, and it does focus in on the oil and gas industry a bit, which it points out are receiving tax breaks likely to cost the American public $100 billion over the next ten years (if not cut).
It's time these companies pay their fair share of the taxes and help the U.S. get back on its feet. I hope Congress will read this important letter and act appropriately.
Image Credit: Leader Nancy Pelosi via flickr/Creative Commons license