Romney on oil subsidies: “I havent looked at it,” but Big Oils taxes should be cut

The list of Republican presidential candidates who deny climate science but just love Big Oil continues to grow.  Wonk Room has the story.

The Big Oil companies last week announced their first quarter profits “” which topped $32 billion for the five biggest companies combined, and were nearly $11 billion for Exxon alone “” prompting Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration to, once again, call for ending the nearly $4 billion in subsidies that these companies receive every year. “When oil companies are making huge profits and you’re struggling at the pump, and we’re scouring the federal budget for spending we can afford to do without, these tax giveaways aren’t right,” Obama said in his weekly address.

A few Republicans have broken with their party “” which has voted over and over to preserve these subsidies “” by saying that the time has come to cut taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil. But while he was in New Hampshire over the weekend, 2012 GOP hopeful Mitt Romney was asked about oil subsidies and replied “I haven’t looked at it in sufficient depth.” However, he added that corporate taxes need to be cut:

“I’m not planning any new subsidies for the oil industry,” Mr. Romney said. But when asked if tax breaks should be cut, he responded that corporate taxes, across the board, should be lowered. “As the specifics of that industry, I haven’t looked at it in sufficient depth.”

If Romney wants to read up on what, exactly, these subsidies amount to, the Sunlight Foundation has a good rundown here. At the same time that they’re collecting billions in taxpayer-funded largesse each year and reaping huge profits, oil companies are using that money to enrich executives. In 2009, almost 90 percent of net revenue at the four biggest oil companies went to paying dividends and buying back stock.

As for Romney’s contention that corporate tax rates need to be lowered, he might want to note that several oil companies already pay far below the statutory corporate tax rate. Exxon, for instance, paid nothing into the U.S. Treasury in 2009. Of Chevron’s $8 billion in income taxes that year, just $200 million was paid to the U.S.

Romney is not the only one feeling the pressure when it comes to oil subsidies. Both Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) called for an end to the subsidies, before walking those pronouncements back.

— A Wonk Room cross-post.

10 Responses to Romney on oil subsidies: “I havent looked at it,” but Big Oils taxes should be cut

  1. Nick Bentley says:

    Ending oil subsidies appears to be a *really* good target for activism at the moment. It’s a simple goal that has at least some support on both sides of the political aisle, and it would make a great big difference in pushing renewables by giving them better competitive footing.

    I’m considering hoping on my bicycle and riding back and forth across the country between coasts to push for the end of oil subsidies. Haven’t decided whether I will. I’ve written about it here:

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    None of the Republican candidates for president is going to do anything that the oil companies don’t want, because the Republican Party has been taken over by the oil, coal, and natural gas companies. If someone like Koch or Tillerson calls any Republican politician, he clicks his heels and answers “yes, sir!”. If anyone was going to weaken his position here it would have been Romney, who is pretty wealthy, but apparently he figured that the $700 million+ he’ll need to run for president is going to have to come from the oil companies.

    This is an unbelievable disgrace, and would deeply wound American democracy even if it weren’t for global warming and the need to switch to clean sources of energy. A lot of bad things happen when sunset industries remain in control of governments. There are many historical examples here, and even current ones- China is struggling with coal industry influence peddling, and countries like Poland and Australia will never get off coal without major outside pressure.

  3. Nick Bentley says:

    Mike Roddy @2

    I hope you’re wrong. One reason for hope is that oil subsidies are at direct odds with the free-market narrative which is so important in Republican ideology. There may be more support among Republicans than you might expect because of this. Ideology does matter.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Nick, ideology does matter to them. Unless there’s a twenty dollar bill at stake.

  5. Nick Bentley says:

    Sadly true sadly often. Still, I will cling to my dreams.

  6. PeterM says:

    The amazing part of this- at least half of the American public buys j this kind of that the republicans shamelessly promote; lower taxes for the oil, coal and natural gas companies, the ultra rich, while social safety nets going back to 1935 are being stripped.

    The public also seems lost in a world of ignorance and denial over the coming climate change chamber of horrors we are facing.

    When will the public wake up? The economic implosion of 2008-09 will only be a prelude to something far worse down the road in the not too distant future.

  7. But while he was in New Hampshire over the weekend, 2012 GOP hopeful Mitt Romney was asked about oil subsidies and replied “I haven’t looked at it in sufficient depth.”

    Someone should ask him what he has looked at in sufficient depth.

    If all that a Congressman needs to do is to keep saying, ‘I’ve not looked at this in detail, but I know that [insert Tea Party talking point here]’, then surely my dog is more than competent to run for Congress already.


  8. sydb says:

    Romney was the liberal Republican when running for Goverernor in Massacheusetts but now his ultra-conservative, like all the other Republicans. I remember him in the Michigan primary promising to restore the US auto industry. He didn’t explain how, nor did he mention that along with the bosses of the Big Three and Walter Ruther, his father had ridden the good times in Michigan with ne’er a thought for the morrow. I expect it would be “like father, like son,” with him obsequiously grovelling to Big Oil and leaving the rest of humanity, and future generations, to pick up the pieces.

    Like Frank #7, I wondered what else he hadn’t looked at. Economics, thermodynamics, ecology, an Atlas (apart from “Atlas Shrugged”) or a real science journal?

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Big Oil= Big Profits= Big Money = Big Power, in all capitalist states. The situation of a nakedly kleptomaniacal crony capitalist caste controlling politics and the media, while the situation is falsely (ludicrously, really) described as ‘democracy’, is beyond parody. And Nick Bentley, if I may dissent a smidgin, Republican ‘ideology’ is for the serfs only. Where it is useful as a narrative that describes the impoverishment of the very many and the gigantic enrichment of the very, very, few as ‘inevitable’ and an example of ‘freedom’, it is ruthlessly imposed. But where it might interfere with the larcenous depredations of the rich, it is suspended, indefinitely. A similar example of the Right’s innate duplicity and double-dealing was evident in Australia up until the GFC, and will soon, undoubtedly, be resurrected like all ‘voodoo economics’ Rightwing zombie dogma. The Rightwing brainwashing apparat was ubiquitous and arrogantly insistent (as ever), demanding that the rabble learn how to live with ‘risk’, which would be rewarded in the never-never. At the same time the very same ideologues and apologists for the robber class demanded that business be granted ‘certainty’ in everything (basically being allowed to get their way, always), otherwise they would go into a sulk and rob society of their peerless skills in ‘wealth creation’. Similar examples abound.

  10. Nick Bentley says:

    Mulga @9

    “For serfs only” – it does appear that way, doesn’t it? I’ve no quarrel with any of your claims. Wish I did, but I don’t. Also, if your actual name isn’t Mulga Mumblebrain you should change it so that it is.