Ryan Budget Pads Big Oil’s Pockets While Americans Pay At The Pump

Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress.

American families have been plagued by higher oil and gasoline prices over the past several years despite a significant increase in domestic oil production and rigs, and decline in consumption. But while high prices threaten the economy and family budgets, they enrich American oil companies with huge profits. Yet it appears that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed FY 2013 budget resolution would retain a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion. And his budget would cut billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil and help protect middle-class families from volatile energy prices as well as create jobs. In short, the Ryan budget compounds the cost of high oil and gasoline prices on the middle class.

Last year the average gasoline price was $3.58 per gallon — the highest since at least 1976 — so it’s little surprise that the big five oil companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell — made a combined record profit of $137 billion in 2011. These companies had nearly $60 billion in cash reserves, too. Yet under the Ryan budget it seems that these and other Big Oil and gas companies would continue to benefit from $4 billion in annual tax breaks.

Instead of ending Big Oil tax breaks, Rep. Ryan’s proposed FY 2013 budget would slash funding for investments in clean energy research, development, deployment, and commercialization, along with other energy programs. The plan calls for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone. From 2013 to 2017 the Ryan budget would spend a paltry total of $150 million over these five years on these programs—which is barely 20 percent of what was invested in only 2012.

The latest House Republican budget plan asks low-income and middle-class Americans to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while simultaneously delivering massive tax breaks to the richest 1 percent and preserving huge giveaways to Big Oil. It’s a recipe for repeating the mistakes of the Bush administration, during which middle-class incomes stagnated and only the privileged few enjoyed enormous gains.

Each component of the new House Republican budget threatens the middle class while doing nothing to add jobs or grow our economy. It ends the guarantee of decent insurance for senior citizens, breaking Medicare’s bedrock promise. It slashes investments in education, infrastructure, and basic research, all of which are key drivers of economic growth and mobility. And it cuts taxes for those at the top, asking the middle class to pick up the tab. It’s a budget designed to benefit the top 1 percent at everyone else’s expense.

Read Daniel Weiss’s full article on the Ryan budget.

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