Yesterday, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) appeared on a C-SPAN Newsmakers roundtable and defended Exxon Mobil’s recent record-setting quarterly profit of $11.7 billion. Blunt tried to minimize the wealth and influence of Exxon, then went on to blast the company’s critics, saying they should be overjoyed that an “American company made money”:
[T]hey’re the 14th biggest oil company in the world, and the only U.S. company in the top 20. So in all likelihood, the 13 companies bigger than them made a whole more money than that, and that all went somewhere besides the United States. That went to Saudi Arabia, that went to Russia. [...]
We can complain all we want to about American stockholders and American company made money. That’s what our friends want to do — the Democrats.
It’s not clear where Blunt is getting his numbers to downplay Exxon’s over-sized influence. According to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly’s 2007 ranking of the world’s 50 largest oil companies, Exxon ranked third. It beat out state-owned companies such as CNPC (China) and Gazprom (Russia). In Fortune’s 2008 list of America’s top corporations, Exxon ranked second overall and first among petroleum refiners.
It’s astonishing that Blunt could claim, with a straight face, that Exxon’s massive profits are good for America. Sure, the company’s stockholders are getting rich. But most Americans continue to pay skyrocketing gas prices. Exxon is certainly not giving back to the American public either. ABC recently reported that the company has invested just 1 percent of its profits on alternative energy sources.
Even more appalling than Exxon’s record profits, however, is the fact that conservatives feel the need to boost the company with massive tax breaks. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), whom Blunt supports, has a plan to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. It would give nearly $4 billion in tax breaks to the six largest oil companies.
SCULLY: One part of the debate — Exxon Mobil last week, $11.7 billion in profit, the largest ever in quarterly profit for a U.S. company. Should they be required to use some of that profits investing in alternative energy?
BLUNT: They may very well be. Now whether they should be required to, I don’t know. But the interesting thing, I think, Steve, about Exxon Mobil is — which I don’t own any of their stock; I don’t own any oil company stock — their profits were big like you said, and they’re the 14th biggest oil company in the world, and the only U.S. company in the top 20. So in all likelihood, the 13 companies bigger than them made a whole more money than that, and that all went somewhere besides the United States. That went to Saudi Arabia, that went to Russia.
We can complain all we want to about American stockholders and American company made money. That’s what our friends want to do — the Democrats. And I’ve had this debate almost the end of every week with my good friend, the Majority Leader, as we wrap up the week. I hear what the Exxon Mobil profits were that week.
But just remember. They’re way down the list. They control 3 percent of the oil in the world. Most of the 97 percent of the world that they don’t control is controlled by some foreign government that we’re sending money to, and that’s a foolish thing to continue to do. That’s a whole lot bigger deal than what Exxon Mobil does with their money.
The big deal here, is we’re sending $700 billion of our money, every year as Americans, to other countries, and we certainly don’t have any control over what they do with it, but it’s certainly not good for us.