ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall in Anthem, Arizona.
Last month, ThinkProgress took note of a strange new defense of oil subsidies: denying their existence. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), a top recipient of oil industry campaign contributions, defended billions in targeted oil subsidies by telling a constituent that they don’t exist, so Congress shouldn’t cut them. Now, it appars freshman Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) is adopting Bishop’s novel defense.
At a town hall in Anthem last night, Quayle was asked by a constituent why he had pushed to cut services for the elderly and women while pushing massive tax cuts for the rich and tax subsidies for the oil industry. In a condescending manner, Quayle demanded that the constituent name the specific subsidies targeted towards oil companies. The constituent didn’t miss a beat, and reminded him that the Senate just last week held a hearing where oil industry CEOs defended billions in special taxpayer money. Quayle then went on to deny that any of the subsidies used by the oil industry are at all targeted:
CONSTITUENT: I’d like to know why you’d like to do this on the backs of seniors, and of women. All the cuts are going to hurt seniors, future seniors, and women! Your attacks on Planned Parenthood are hurting women who need healthcare. […] And why are you are choosing that way rather than cutting oil subsidies […]
QUAYLE: In terms of the oil subsidies, if we’re going to address it, can you just tell me what oil subsidies you’re talking about so I could have better information on what to expand on it?
CONSTITUENT: Why were the oil companies coming to defend their subsidies in front of the Senate? Those subsidies, anything in which we give them money when they’re making billions off of us every day.
AUDIENCE: That’s right!
QUAYLE: The things they were talking about were actually tax deductions that corporations across all sorts of sectors take in terms of R&D, in terms of equipment deductions, the life of the equipment, those were the deductions that they were talking about and it’s not specific to the oil industry […]
Earlier this year, Quayle and his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives voted in lockstep to extend billions in tax breaks to oil companies. The subsidies include special tax breaks only available to oil and gas companies. For instance, there is the “Intangible Drilling Costs” tax break ($7.8 billion over ten years); a deduction for “tertiary,” or enhanced oil recovery methods ($67 million over ten years); and the percentage depletion allowance for owners of oil wells ($10 billion over ten years). Indeed, Quayle’s claim that targeted tax subsidies to oil companies dont exist is laughable.
And while Quayle promised his constituents that he would clear out all the tax loopholes at some future point, he voted for a second time two weeks ago to extend the same subsidies to oil companies.