DeMint Rails Against ‘Massive Salaries’ . . . At PBS

In a Wall Street Journal column today, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) rails against “massive salaries” the executives at NPR and PBS are “raking” in, and how cutting their subsidies would save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars:

While executives at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) are raking in massive salaries, the organizations are participating in an aggressive lobbying effort to prevent Congress from saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year by cutting their subsidies.

The salaries he finds so egregious? PBS President Paula Kerger earned $632,233, NPR former President Kevin Klose $1.2 million, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison earned $298,884, plus $70,630 in additional compensation. While those numbers are not exactly chump change, it’s pennies compared to the salaries of another industry the U.S. taxpayers subsidize at much higher cost — Big Oil.

While DeMint takes aim at the $451 million budget proposal for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Big Oil continues to rake in billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies — $4 billion of which his fellow Republicans voted to maintain a few days ago — while its CEOs report multi-million dollar pay packages. In 2009 alone, the CEOs of the big five oil companies made a combined $67.3 million dollars:

— Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson: $27.2 million
— Chevron’s CEO David J. O’Reilly: $15.2 million
— ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva: $14.4 million
— BP former CEO Tony Hayward: $6.03 million
— Shell CEO Peter Voser: $4.4 million

Unrest in the Middle East has driven oil prices to their highest level since 2008. While Americans are paying at the pump, Republicans continue to protect not millions but billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies, even in the face of nearly trillion dollar profits. Additionally, when gas prices increase, so do Big Oil’s bottom line.

An NBC/WSJ poll on Wednesday found that 74 percent of voters support cutting subsidies to big oil, so to quote Jim DeMint’s attack on Public Broadcasting, “There’s no reason taxpayers need to subsidize them anymore.” I couldn’t agree more.

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