After a wave of Republicans came out for ending billions in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies, first quarter profits showed major oil companies like Shell and ExxonMobil made about $35 billion in profits. Although observers expected that news of record profits might mean the end of some $70 billion in taxpayer subsidies, fiscal conservatives were disappointed last week when the Republicans voted in lockstep to extend oil subsidies.
ThinkProgress spoke with Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), a freshman Republican who voted to preserve the subsidies, at a Republican Party dinner in South Carolina on Friday. Asked if giving taxpayer money to massively profitable companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron is “fair,” Scott danced around the issue. “Fair is a relative word,” Scott claimed, before launching into a discussion about more domestic drilling:
FANG: Government’s obviously spending billions every year in oil subsidies and it was just found out this week that in the first quarter, the big oil companies, Exxon, Chevron, whatever, made thirty five billion. And they’re still getting taxpayer money. What do you think of that? Is that fair?
SCOTT: Well, A) I have not seen the report so I can’t tell you whether it’s fair or not. I think everybody — fair is a relative word.
Republicans have made cutting funds for NPR, regulators for Wall Street, the EPA, and Pell Grants a priority. While they rail about the national debt, none of these programs come close to the amount of money taxpayers are forced to give to big oil companies. As Rep. Scott said, “fair is a relative word.”
Scott tried to change the topic by talking about drilling. But as the Energy Information Agency has explained, new domestic drilling would not change prices at the pump. If anything, the push for new drilling, along with extending oil subsidies, is another ploy to boost the profits of big oil businesses.