Oil giant Exxon-Mobil today announced that it made almost $11 billion in profits through the first three months of this year, a nearly 70 percent increase in its first quarter profit from last year. Democrats in Congress have, for years, been trying to cut the nearly $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies that go to oil companies every year, and cited today’s profits as one more justification for removing this taxpayer-funded largesse.
“We have to take away the subsidies for these five major oil companies,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “There’s no need for these subsidies. The companies have broken records [with their] profits.” Exxon-Mobil’s vice president for public and government affairs Ken Cohen responded today by whining that cutting oil company subsidies amounts to a tax increase:
“Over the last week as earnings season has approached, the Democratic Party leadership again talked about removing what they call $4 billion in oil industry subsidies,” [ExxonMobil’s vice president for public and government affairs Ken] Cohen said. “But what they really mean is that they want to increase our taxes by taking away long-standing deductions for our industry while leaving these same deductions in place for other sectors of the economy.”
Exxon, of course, paid absolutely nothing into the Federal Treasury in 2009, while still receiving these subsidies. And the rest of Exxon’s Big Oil brethren, while not doing quite as well, all made billions off of the rising price of oil. In fact, the five biggest oil companies — Exxon, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and BP — made a combined $32.7 billion in the last three months:
At the same time that sky-high oil prices are helping Big Oil make a killing, they are slowing an already sluggish economic recovery. Gross Domestic Product grew at a paltry 1.8 percent last quarter, and rising gas prices “have nearly neutralized the 2011 payroll tax cuts that were intended as a stimulus.”