Late last week, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) held a town hall meeting in Meadville, Pennsylvania where constituents challenged the freshman congressman on his support for subsidies to oil and gas corporations. Earlier this year, Kelly joined every House Republican in voting to protect the $4 billion in subsidies that go to oil and gas companies every year. However, unlike many of his House colleagues, Kelly has a significant personal financial stake in the matter.
A constituent from Erie asked Kelly how he can “justify continuing subsidies for oil companies with record profits while cutting vital services for working families?” The Pennsylvania congressman first responded by citing American Petroleum Institute talking points and argued that we need to help oil companies because they are in many pension plans and retirement portfolios. Kelly then went on to decry what he saw as “class warfare” before being shouted down by constituents who were incredulous that the Pennsylvania congressman was a “rich millionaire” but he wouldn’t end oil subsidies and “fix the tax code”:
MODERATOR: This question is from Joshua from Erie. How can you justify continuing subsidies for oil companies with record profits while cutting vital services for working families? Oil companies don’t need subsidies and working families shouldn’t have to pay for them with…
KELLY: First of all, let me just ask one thing. Is there anybody in here that has a pension? Anybody have a portfolio? I want you to very carefully look at those portfolios. Those are usually made up by profitable companies.
CONSTITUENT: Why are we subsidizing them?
KELLY: If you really want to understand the whole thing, I would say that, number one, we want companies to be profitable. I said earlier about the class warfare, if we’re going to start classifying, “they’re too rich, they’re too wealthy, they’re too greedy. We don’t get enough, we need more, and we need to have rich people putting more money in. We need, we need, we need, we need, we need, we need, we need.”
Watch it, courtesy of Americans United for Change (beginning at 1:40):
Kelly’s defense of oil and gas subsidies is bad enough on the merits, but it is all the more troubling given that he owns up to $6.25 million in oil and gas companies. Kelly’s holdings include the following:
— Up to $5 million in Phillips Resources Inc., an oil and gas drilling company that is exploring major drilling expansions in the area of western Pennsylvania that Kelly represents
— Up to $1 million in TWP Gas and Oil, a natural gas company in western Pennsylvania
As oil companies reap sky-high profits, outraged citizens are demanding to know why they continue to receive billions in taxpayer subsidies. Kelly, who owns millions in oil and gas money and personally profits from their success, is only the latest defender of corporate giveaways. It is sad but unsurprising that the Pennsylvania Republican would disparage those who call for an end to subsidies as engaging in “class warfare,” while at the same time arguing that taxpayers should support the very oil and gas companies he’s invested in because “we want companies to be profitable.”