Despite recent overtures, House Republicans decided to buck the American public this afternoon and voted unanimously to preserve a $1.8 billion subsidy that treats oil drilling as “domestic manufacturing.” While several Republicans have now confirmed their hypocrisy, Republican Study Committee member Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) — who previously denied that oil subsidies even existed — was indignant at the idea of “taxing oil companies” and told reporters (and 74 percent of voters) to “quit trying to demonize success and create straw men” out of oil companies:
“Let’s tax the oil companies. What a wonderful nonsequitor!” said Bishop sarcastically during a press conference Thursday. “How are you going to produce more oil by taxing oil companies? How do you actually believe that the tax will not be passed onto consumers?”
“Quit trying to demonize success and create straw men to shift the burden away from the fact that de facto moratoriums, lack of action, foot-dragging, red tape, galatial speed by this administration is what is causing our problems,” Bishop said.
The only straw man here is the argument that cutting subsidies would raise costs for consumers. The Congressional Joint Economic Committee looked at the domestic manufacturing subsidy and found that, “In the long run, the removal or modification of the tax deduction is unlikely to have any effect on consumer prices for oil and gas.” As for the idea that moratoriums on offshore drilling are driving up prices, Bishop should note that the U.S. produces about the same amount of oil now that it produced in the 1950s even without the moratoriums. Even President Bush’s economic adviser Douglas Holtz Eakin admitted that offshore drilling would not lower gas prices.
As for the demonry, oil companies who rake in sky-high profits off high gas prices at the pump while simultaneously lobbying to maintain unnecessary subsidies at the expense of the taxpayer are earning all the superlatives well enough on their own.