The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, long a mouthpiece for the interests of the oil industry, has lashed out against the Democratic effort to roll back taxpayer subsidies for the Big Five oil companies. In a letter to the U.S. Senate, the chamber’s chief lobbyist, R. Bruce Josten, blasted S. 940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, as “punitive taxation” that would “jeopardize U.S. jobs” and “increase energy costs.” The $21 billion in unneeded subsidies would go to reduce the federal deficit. Josten argues the deficit should be tackled through spending cuts at the expense of working families and the elderly, instead of the richest corporations on earth:
While the Chamber believes that deficit reduction is a laudable goal, this goal should be achieved through spending cuts that address the root cause of the deficit, and not thru [sic] punitive taxation. Bad tax policy and bad energy policy are not antidotes for the poison of the federal deficit.
Even the American Petroleum Institute’s chief economist has admitted that cutting subsidies for Big Oil would not hurt jobs — in fact, it could create jobs. As The Hill’s Andrew Restuccia reports, the “nonpartisan Congressional Research Service and the Joint Economic Committee both say the bill will not affect fuel prices.” Instead, cutting these subsidies would be a first step to rebuilding a nation that rewards work and responsibility instead of greed and political influence.
The chamber has a consistent stance that the richest nation on earth should increase economic inequality and suffering by cutting services for working families while cutting taxes for “businesses and upper income individuals.”
Over 6000 American businesses have joined 350.org’s “The Chamber Does Not Speak For Me” campaign to oppose the right-wing lobbying group’s toxic politics.
The chamber’s letter:
May 16, 2011
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, strongly opposes S. 940, the “Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act,” because levying new taxes and fees on America’s oil and gas industry would increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil, increase costs to consumers, jeopardize U.S. jobs, and erode economic competitiveness.
Taxes, new fees, and other attempts to restrict domestic energy production have been proven to increase reliance on imported energy and to increase costs for consumers. The lack of more robust domestic energy production is a failure of Congress and the Administration. Legislation intended to punish energy companies for the government’s failure is misguided, unwarranted, and ultimately counterproductive.
For example, the denial and limitations of the Section 199 deduction for oil and gas companies provided in S. 940 could discourage energy investment, result in lost jobs and ultimately decrease supply and increase energy costs for businesses relying on oil and gas. Furthermore, the proposed modification of the foreign tax credit rules for U.S. oil and gas companies would place domestic firms at a competitive disadvantage to foreign oil and gas manufacturers.
Some supporters of S. 940 indicate that this legislation is necessary for deficit reduction. While the Chamber believes that deficit reduction is a laudable goal, this goal should be achieved through spending cuts that address the root cause of the deficit, and not thru punitive taxation. Bad tax policy and bad energy policy are not antidotes for the poison of the federal deficit.
In sum, the Chamber strongly opposes the targeting of specific industries to offset or pay for Congress’ inability to affect sound fiscal policy that achieves meaningful deficit reduction, and urges Congress to address fundamental comprehensive energy policy. The Chamber will consider votes on, or in relation to, S. 940 – including votes on cloture on the motion to proceed – in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten