Editor’s note: We spoke to Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), not Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO). The name has been corrected.
In February and again in March, Republicans in the House of Representatives, on a largely party-line roll call, voted to extend tens of billions in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies. At the sparsely attended “Continuing Revolution” Tea Party rally on Thursday calling for more budget cuts, we talked to a number of attendees about their thoughts on Republicans giving so much taxpayer money away to already ultra-profitable oil companies. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) was among the many lawmakers to vote twice to extend over $50 billion in taxpayer subsidies to the oil companies:
— House Vote 153 on H.J.Res.44: Graves voted to extend billions in oil subsidies.
— House Vote 109 on H.R.1: Graves voted to extend billions in oil subsidies.
However, when we caught up with Graves yesterday, he said he had no idea that the vote had taken place. He didn’t seem to remember voting for them. In fact, after pressing the congressman, Graves called the idea of giving oil companies taxpayer subsidies “a manipulation of the market place”:
FANG: Four billion dollars in oil subsidies that the Congress just passed to extend for the next ten years maybe forty billion for the next ten years to oil companies. Do you agree with that type of subsidy given the state our budget and deficit?
GRAVES: Uh, when was that passed? I’m not aware of what you’re speaking.
FANG: It was in the continuing resolution debate. I think the Democrats raised a point of order to vote on it and it passed.
GRAVES: Hm. Yeah as far as subsidies, I mean I believe in the free market system all together, the capitalism system one hundred percent. Let the markets determine who is going to succeed throughout the market place.
KEYES: Do you think those subsidies are an aberration of the free market?
GRAVES: I mean they definitely influence the market place. Its somewhat of a manipulation of the market place if products aren’t willing, aren’t able to succeed on their own because of consumer demand and likeness of that product then why should government get in there and manipulate it?
Republicans have convinced the media and the Tea Party movement that they are concerned about the deficit. Even as the GOP has voted in lockstep to balloon the deficit with billions in tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires, they have used concerns about the deficit to justify cutting food stamps, Pell grants, the Weather Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other consumer and middle class protections. The billions in oil subsidies Graves voted to protect — then forgot about — is part of the same ideology of soaking the poor to help the rich.