Paul Ryan And His Family To Benefit From The $45 Billion In Subsidies For Big Oil In His Budget

Paul Ryan’s budget, which means austerity for most Americans, turns out to mean prosperity for Ryan and his family.

That budget, which the GOP-led House adopted as its blueprint, slashes funding for everyone from seniors to the disabled to students while preserving $45 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for Big Oil over the next 10 years, as has been widely reported.

But what we have only just learned from Ryan’s financial disclosure forms for Congress (here) that were made public this week is “he and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan’s budget plan,” as The Daily Beast reported today.

Ryan’s father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.

These energy giants stand to profit directly from the $45 billion in subsidies and tax breaks. How cozy!

When asked about the blatant conflict of interest, Ryan’s spokesperson offered up the newly-popular “wife” defense:

Ryan’s office says the congressman wasn’t thinking about himself or the oil companies that lease his land when he drafted the budget blueprint that extended the energy tax breaks. “These are properties that Congressman Ryan married into,” spokesman Kevin Seifert said. “It’s not something he has a lot of control over.”

Seriously. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said his wife vetoed his presidential run. Now Ryan’s office says he has no control over his ethics where family is concerned. Apparently nobody ever explained to him what conflict of interest means.

“Sure, senior citizens should have to pay more for health care, but landholders like [Ryan] who lease property to big oil companies, well, their government subsidies must be protected at all costs,” says Melanie Sloan, the director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It smacks of hypocrisy.”

In fact, if Ryan had actually cared about the deficit, he would have stripped these subsidies from his budget. Back in 2005, President George W. Bush, a former oilman, explained that the profit potential in the oil industry drives exploration, not the subsidies: “With $55 oil we don’t need incentives to the oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives.” Oil prices are hovering around $100 a barrel today.


So Ryan married into four investments whose asset value is between $265,000 and $650,000. His family’s income last year from those investments was between $36,000 and $117,000. Talk about your nest egg.

Presumably he wasn’t thinking about those investments when he voted repeatedly this year to protect Big Oil subsidies.

Finally, no doubt it is also just a coincidence that the House Budget Committee Chairman slashed funding for the major competitors to Big Oil, eliminating billions of dollars in investments in clean energy technologies.

We can be certain that Ryan wasn’t thinking about himself or the oil companies that lease his land when he made that choice. He never does that kind of thinking at all.

Below are the earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:

Jon Warren Lentz

Yes, but he doesn’t have anything to twitter, so no big deal, right?

June 17 at 1:04pmLeif Erik Knutsen

Was it May West that said something like, “is that bulge in your pocket money or you just happy to see me?” Curious times for sure. One will help get you elected to congress the other kicked out.

June 17 at 3:00pm

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June 17 at 1:07pmMike Roddy

Aren’t there rules in Congress about this? What he is doing is pretty blatant.

June 17 at 1:08pm

Julia Ann Adkins

Well said everyone. I hate repukes, their platform, and everything they stand for. I still dont understand why half of America is repug. Why are middleclass people voting for them? Their stance on the bibal? Greedy, greedy, unethical people.

June 18 at 9:33pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

It is not half of America, it is half of the voting population which turns out to be ~25% of Americans. The other ~50% are so disenfranchised that they do not even bother to vote. The GOBP like it like that as you know and they do their very best to prevent more voters from participating.

June 18 at 11:10pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

I am curious to know if the leased land is actually even producing any product or could it be just a cover for cash transfer.

June 17 at 1:32pmAndrew DeWeese

Even better, everyone knows it’s not a conflict of interest ifyou “didn’t mean it”! LOL

June 17 at 2:18pm

Tom Gannon

Yet another member of the “I have no conflict of interest because its in my wife’s name” club. Other members include Dick Cheney, Clarence Thomas, and Rick Scott.

June 17 at 2:19pmPeter S. Mizla

When will the public know? The media lies.

June 17 at 2:58pmSimeon Joffe

No surprise here.

June 17 at 3:15pmJeremy Grov Owens

His wife have a single sister? I’d like to marry into that kind of money.

June 17 at 4:31pm


What a swell fellow. All he is trying to do is represent those folks who put him into office. You know, the voters. Oops, I meant those who bought and paid for him. Big oil and big insurance companies, the real people he and his ilk are so concerned about.Jim Groom

June 17 at 5:57pmChad Brick

But his step-daddy *earned* this money with hard work, incredible foresight, and tons of sweat, right? There is no possible way that he could have inherited it, lucked into it, or got a sweet deal from some country-club buddy politician, right?

June 17 at 6:34pm


Actually, by the standards of “wealthy” America, that’s not a lot of money. In fact, by the standards of a Congressional election campaign, it’s not much money at all. So the oil subsidy would have an effect that might be on your radar, but it isn’t particularly on Ryan’s radar. Remember, we’re talking about a world where an invited speech involves a $50,000 fee.

June 17 at 6:44pmArmand Prati

Yeah, but for someone on Medicare and Medicaid even the low annual income of $30K would be a blessing

June 17 at 9:40pm

Amin Khad

And of course, Thinkprogress’ economic plan is to continue borrowing $1.5 trillion a year, thus guaranteeing future poverty for America.

June 17 at 8:17pmLeif Erik Knutsen

It takes money to make money but that only works in the big picture if that money is invested in sustainable development and not extraction or destruction of finite resources. War and fossil dinosaur harvesting are examples of the former, green energy, the latter.

June 18 at 11:03am

Rocky Higgins

I’d like to see all of those types out of GOV.

June 17 at 8:57pmNancy Kuykendall

There’d be no one left.

June 21 at 1:20pm

Bill R Baldwin

Oh well, what’s new. Is there any one in DC that really cares about us who is working or worked all our lives. Better yet, will there ever be.

June 17 at 9:35pmGary Royer

<- <- <- says it all.

June 17 at 10:52pmJohn Edward Lloyd

Fend for yourself is the republican mantra. Do you expect anything else?

June 18 at 12:10amPenelope Milstein

The chasm of the divide between climate change science and policy in the USA beggars belief. I’m Australian and the situation is grave here too. Thanks to Joe Romm and company, telling truths like these are disseminated. Thank you

June 18 at 7:25amCarol Hill

How dothese people sleep at night?

June 18 at 7:31amLynn Leffler Gerken

They don’t do anything for the people of this nation they are only concerned about making their $$ first. If that means it is at our expense then so be it. As far as I am concerned this is no different than what Weiner did….moral values do not just stop at the bedroom or the internet, but no one will ask for Ryans resignation.

June 18 at 8:03amWayne Austin

this congressman is priceless. what a shame, they are only concerned about themselves, to hell with us middle class citizens. too much money going to our senators & representatives. don’t get me wrong we all have a right to make money, but this goes a little too far!

June 18 at 10:11amMark Bacon

They’ve got too many people fooled into thinking they’re “for teh people.” Yeah, right.

June 18 at 8:11pm

Boris Tadethsky

Why on earth do we let right wing captious jerks get away with saying things like “redistribution of wealth” when it’s aimed at medicare and social security? If we have numerous pieces of legislation that provide tax breaks for everything from leasing land, to equipment purcahses, to loss of market value for oil and then we give direct payments to oil and then we allow oil companies zone price consumer products so competition is eliminated, why do we allow people like Ryan ownership of the term “redistribution of wealth”?

June 18 at 3:10pmChatty Connie

People just like soundbites not learning the issues…

June 18 at 3:15pm

Boris Tadethsky

Very true. We need a bumpersticker like “I’ve got not lettuce to buy your oil”. No? I’ll work on it.

June 18 at 3:18pm

Chatty Connie

We definitely need slogans and soundbites to contradict them!

June 18 at 3:54pm

Daniel Stewart

The worst redistribution of wealth is the very kind they’re engaged in, where the taxpayers borrow money they don’t have, at interest, to pay a larger share of the cost of government so the people at the top who already have the advantage of not having their earnings eaten up by interest on borrowing, can pay less tax. That’s completely insane, and these assholes have the gall to say to our faces: “It is good for the economy and it will create jobs.”

June 18 at 6:11pm

Julia Black

Americans have been dumb enough to believe in tinkle down economics for a generation or more. It’s going to be pretty stuff to reframe the concept for the ignorant.

June 19 at 12:53pm

Julia Black

@chattyc- That’s why it’s so important to frame the issues correctly, e.g., George Lakoff, or the media and Americans are quickly repeating right-wing talking points.

June 19 at 1:00pm

Daniel Stewart

I know with absolute certainty that if we eliminate the $45 Billion for oil and gas subsidies, that oil and gas will cost us $45 Billion more over that same period of time. But damnit, that’s how I want it. I do not want my tax dollars used to artificially lower the price of gas. Besides, higher prices make alternative energy that much more competitive, and I imagine that is why oil industry lobbyists are so hard at work redistributing some of that money to Congressmen who are willing to forego their stated policies against pointless subsidies, as long as some of that cash trickles down to them.

June 18 at 3:31pmBoris Tadethsky

I think it also depends on what we do with that 45 billion. Let’s say we subsidize every government building to install solar panels and systems? Creats jobs, lowers governmetn costs for the short and long term, creates leadership and sends a hardy f*ck you to the GOP.

June 18 at 3:43pm

Robert Bob Priest

Daniel, you hit the nail on the head! It is all about opportunity cost and net present value (NPV). If producing alternative means of making the energy has a high opportunity cost and a low NPV compared to oil then the project is not worth undertaking. Remove the subsidies and the opportunity costs drop for alternatives versus oil and the NPV of future returns on alternative energy sources rise, making the project well worth undertaking. Kudos Daniel!

June 18 at 4:58pm

Jet Blakc

Paul Ryan is rich as hell. Damn near any subsidy to anything will benefit him.

June 18 at 5:22pm

Daniel Stewart

Robert; Making the development prospects for alternative energy projects even more difficult is the Conservative’s almost religious fervor for defunding or blocking any such projects, because (though they’ll never admit it) that reduces or eliminates the cost/risk/value obstacle these developers have to overcome. If these assholes had it any more their way, we would resume whaling to “ease our dependence on foreign oil.”

June 18 at 6:30pm

Pat Burress

But Social Security survivor benefits were ‘good enough’ for Ryan when he received them after his father passed away. He used them to support himself through college! He has to be the biggest hypocrite and piece of human waste on the Planet!

June 18 at 5:22pmMaryann Hammond

I have read about this before, it needs to be shared again, is anyone listening?

June 18 at 5:51pm

Stellans Sloop

It seems to come down to “all right for me but not for thee” with these guys so very often…

June 18 at 9:39pm

Pat Burress

I think they honestly ‘believe’ we’re just going to ‘sit back’ and take it!

June 19 at 12:52am

Richard Brenne

A conflict of the public’s interest is a Republican getting elected to anything.

June 20 at 3:00pm

Bonita Millard

Just another day in the life of the hypocritrical GOPs! What I don’t get is, don’t they realize all this “stuff” will come to light someday. Ryan is sure trying to weasel his way out of this one….Don’t buy his hypocracy folks!

June 18 at 6:23pmJeffry Gow

they talk about liberty and justice for all. the republicans mean liberty for some, suffering for the rest. better check their birth certificates

June 19 at 2:08am

Susan Noonan

Wow. This does not surprise me. I am thankful it has been exposed. Re-expose, would you? Share & share again.

June 18 at 7:54pmCraig Scott

another minion of big oil that we the people need to remove from public life….

June 18 at 9:48pmKarel Zala

‘Hypocrite’ isn’t a strong enough word for this behavior: “When asked about the blatant conflict of interest, Ryan’s spokesperson offered up the newly-popular “wife” defense:Ryan’s office says the congressman wasn’t thinking about himself or the oil companies that lease his land when he drafted the budget blueprint that extended the energy tax breaks. “These are properties that Congressman Ryan married into,” spokesman Kevin Seifert said.”

June 18 at 10:02pmChris Fredericksen

How can anyone in good conscience support this nonsense, this theft!

June 19 at 12:48amDonna Budlong

How come Paul Ryan gets gets all that money? I don’t understand and it makes me mad that funds are being slashed for Senoirs and disabled students and even Medicare, Is it Ceasers money?

June 19 at 6:59pm

Donna Budlong

Chris, I just wanted to wish you a Happy Fathers Day…

June 20 at 10:25am

Juan Ryan

Everybody should think about this each time we’re bombarded with the party line about “entitlements” that we’ve actually paid into all our lives while wealthy elitists like Ryan make tens of thousands of dollars by using our money to subsidize Exxon Mobile. If this isn’t proof that big business runs this country, I don’t know what is.

June 19 at 2:44amJulia Black


June 19 at 11:03am

Juan Ryan

Totally, but if you try to drive that home to the average, rank and file Republican they’ll simply tell you that rich people must know what they’re doing or they wouldn’t be rich, so it must somehow trickle down as a benefit to the rest of us. That and you’re just a lazy, America hating, wealth redistributing, money grubbing Socialist who’s simply “jealous” of Paul Ryan.

June 19 at 12:39pm

Rodney Killion

You sound like someone who just wants to hate anyone who is successfull in life, Last time I checked poor people dont hire anyone, they just have there hands out wanting what someone else has worked for. the subsidies to big oil dosnt change anything…It the democrats always promising free handouts like Medicaid that is bankrupting this country. And by the way Nacy Pelosi is worth 45 million and her net worth has gone up 70% in the last 2 years…wonder why? And big cat Paul Ryan’s net worth is about 2.4 million

July 4 at 1:36pm

Jojo Gomez

not surprised…

June 19 at 3:32amKaren Lentz Madison

And he and his cohorts actually get votes!

June 19 at 8:49amDan Nickolie

Article and links say it all.

June 19 at 9:55amAnne Reardon Urbanski

These rich guys all scratch each other’s backs while they kick the rest of us in the… *fill in the blank*

June 19 at 10:00am

Marcia Dobrick

Here is another example of one who would remove safety nets from vulnerable populations while personally benefitting from big oil. What a pile of stinky, mean spirited feces.

June 19 at 10:09amSonni Will

Follow the money, people.Follow the money.

June 19 at 3:17pmKristi Hunt


June 19 at 7:52pmMichael Lee Young

Hypocrite and a take care of number one. The Republican game plan since Eisenhower left office!

June 19 at 8:58pmPhilip Parmley

Tell you what; let’s all vote for the candidates who raise the least amount of campaign money. That’ll throw ’em for a loop.

June 21 at 7:27amRocky Higgins

That’s OK, I’ve been govering myself for years.

June 21 at 3:27pmGreg Pennington

Is there no end to this sort of hypocrisy?

June 21 at 5:32pmJohn Dicmas

The more things “change” the more they stay the same.

June 21 at 9:31pmThomas Howell

mmm hmmmmmm. . . .

June 21 at 10:46pm

Sherri Vacarella

Thanks for the update, John. Not surprising, but good to know.

June 22 at 1:08am

Nima Rafiei

I love how these people think economics works. Somehow, the LESS tax revenue the federal and local governments have at their disposal, the MORE money we’ll have.

June 22 at 12:24amElisa Tucci

all I can think about is how I am struggling to support myself & my 3 children; I am an unemployed school teacher (laid off due to the climate of today’s economy) and my one daughter is in college. She is entering her third year & the financial aid the federal gov’t offered us is nonexistent- they offered me loans.No grants, no assistance = loans!$9000 a semester in loans for me and $3000 a semester in loans for her.My daughter is a mechanical engineering major, she is our future. How can the gov’t turn their backs on our children and give handouts to the largest profit earning industries?

June 22 at 8:21amLauren Supraner

oh quit complaining. Teachers and the elderly destroyed this country.

June 22 at 9:55am

Ramona Tenorio


June 22 at 12:23pmRachel Ida

well, how very special for THEM. aargh!

June 22 at 12:36pm

Heidi Goehring

Major conflict of interest. And now the facts are showing. That’s a lot of BS.

June 22 at 1:06pmAviva Blesovsky


June 22 at 1:43pmEric Freeman


June 23 at 4:42pmSherry Davis

Now we know who this creep represents…it isn’t middle or lower Americans. No votes for the tea party PLEASE! Our future depends on voting the GOP GONE.

June 28 at 1:07am