Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) is a longstanding supporter of big oil companies, and they have been kind to him. During his career, he received $265,000 in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests. To obscure his support for ExxonMobil and friends, Sununu brags about his opposition to big oil subsidies. In a debate on October 21st with former governor Jeanne Shaheen, Sununu said, “We also repealed tax subsidies for oil companies, which I supported.”
But seconds later he was forced to admit he supported tax breaks for big oil before he opposed them. He gave a tortured explanation for filibustering a bill that would have closed oil tax loopholes last December:
I was the deciding vote . . . I voted to take a large tax package off a conservation bill because it would have killed the bill. You’re correct about that vote, but it was on the legislation to raise fuel efficiency standards for cars, something I supported and wanted to see signed into law. If that tax package had stayed on the bill, it would have been dead, killed, vetoed, no conservation measures, no improvement in fuel efficiency standards.
Sununu’s record on breaks for big oil is clear — it’s identical to Bush’s policy. Here are the facts. In 2007, Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made three attempts to eliminate billions of dollars of big oil tax breaks. And three times, Senator Sununu voted “Nay”:
On December 7, 2007, Sununu filibustered a package that would have cut $13.8 billion in tax loopholes for big oil as part of the final Energy Independence and Security Act. Bush opposed this package. [Vote #416]
On December 13, 2007, Sununu filibustered an amendment to the final energy bill that would have eliminated $12.7 billion in tax cuts for big oil. Bush opposed this amendment. This version failed by a single vote, so Sununu was the deciding vote to keep the tax breaks in place. [Vote #425]
In every vote, Sununu marched in lockstep with Bush, Cheney, and Exxon Mobil against American taxpayers. In December, when Sununu cast the “deciding vote,” 59 senators, including conservatives John Thune (R-SD), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Grassley, voted to slash these oil company benefits. Due to Sununu’s vote, the energy bill that eventually passed left the billions of oil and gas tax breaks intact for another year.
In early October, Sen. Sununu finally voted to eliminate $8.9 billion in oil company tax breaks as part of the $810 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act — after Bush announced he “strongly supports” the “greatly needed tax package.” This bill closed only about half of the $16 billion in tax breaks that Baucus and Grassley originally tried to eliminate, and that Sununu voted to keep. In addition, a Friends of the Earth analysis documents another $19.4 billion in oil and gas industry tax breaks that were never on the chopping block, and still exist today.
This election cycle, Sen. Sununu received nearly $100,000 in oil and gas campaign contributions while he supported tax benefits worth billions of dollars to them. His support was a real bargain.
Research was contributed by Alexandra Kougentakis.