U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday to support the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, which would eliminate $21 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies to Exxon Mobil, BP, Conoco Phillips, Shell and Chevron over the next decade. The Senate voted 52-48 against proceeding to consideration of the legislation.
As gas prices continue to climb, the Big Five Oil companies reported a combined $36 billion in first-quarter profits this year. At the same time, executive compensation among Big Oil CEOs has continued to climb to a staggering $14.5 million on average. Ending this wasteful corporate welfare would reduce the deficit and help preserve investments in critical areas, from after-school programs to COPS funding to disaster assistance to communities.
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Prior to the vote, Senator Boxer spoke on the Senate floor in support of the legislation to end these ‘corporate welfare’ subsidies. Below are excerpts of Senator Boxer’s remarks as delivered:
First of all, we see the first quarter profits: Exxon Mobil, $10.7 billion. A 69 percent increase from last year, and I’m supposed to cry for them. I don’t think so. B.P., with all their troubles, corporate profits $7.1 billion, up 17 percent. This is just in the first quarter. Shell is up 30 percent. Conoco Phillips is up 44 percent. Chevron is up 74 percent.
Well, I’ve got to tell you we have a deficit problem. If we can’t ask the wealthy few in this country to do their share, I don’t know where we’re headed.
$14.5 million – The average compensation for the Big Five oil company CEOs. That’s 307 times the average salary of a firefighter. It’s 273 times the average salary of a teacher. It’s 263 times the average salary of a public officer. And it’s 218 times the average salary of a nurse.
Let the American people see who’s on their side or who’s on the side of these corporations.
The effective tax rate for Exxon is 18 percent on their $7.7 billion in income. A family of two teachers have an effective tax rate of 19 percent. Can you believe this?
Exxon Mobil, 18 percent on their billions. A family of a truck driver and a dental hygienist, 19 percent.
So the effective tax rate of these humongous multibillion-dollar, multinational corporations is less than our middle-class families.
What we could do with the $21 billion over the next ten years.
We could continue these handouts, this corporate welfare to Big Oil, or we could fund the entire “COPS” program for all those 10 years. We could also provide afterschool care for two million kids.
So I’m asking people, would you rather have a cop on the beat at home and know that our police are out there protecting our families? Would you rather make sure that two million kids are kept off the street and have quality afterschool programs? Or would you rather continue corporate welfare for these five corporations?
The Joint Economic Committee said, “Repealing oil subsidies would have no effect on consumer energy prices in the immediate future.”
The Congressional Research Services said, “A small increase in taxes would be unlikely to reduce oil output and hence increase petroleum prices.”
The former CEO of Shell Oil said, “With high oil prices, such subsidies are not necessary.”
This administration is moving forward. The oil companies have over 50 million acres of leased land offshore that they could drill on today. And all they want is more and more and more.
They want to come to California and drill off our pristine coast and threaten tens of thousands of jobs that we have in our fishing industry and our tourist industry. They don’t have to do that. They are sitting on these leases.
This is the moment. We are looking to cut the deficit. We are looking for ways to bring billions of dollars home so that we can get out of the red. And what could be more perfect than this opportunity in the name of fairness, in the name of competition, in the name of deficit reduction and, frankly, in the name of the consumer?
Let’s have some fairness.