Just when you think you’ve heard it all from the fossil fuel industry, along comes American Petroleum Institute (API) chief executive Jack Gerard actually claiming on Tuesday that “the oil and gas industry gets no subsidies, zero, nothing.”
Gerard went on to argue that “we get cost-recovery benefits, much like other industries. You can go down the road of allowing economic activity, generating hundreds of billions to the government, or you can take the alternative route by trying to extract new revenue from industry by increasing their cost to do business. We not only pay our fair share, we pay more than our fair share.”
President Obama has proposed eliminating the $4 billion a year in subsidies and tax breaks to an industry that exceeded $100 billion in profits last year. These tax breaks for the oil and gas industry go all the way back to the 1920s and many argue should not be given to such a mature industry, and instead should be redirected to clean energy technologies of the future.
In addition to the $4 billion annual tax breaks, ThinkProgress reports that ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips pay well below the corporate tax rate of 35 percent, with ExxonMobil paying only a 13 percent tax rate in 2011.
Washington, D.C.-based API is the the largest U.S. trade association for the oil and gas industry and claims to represent 400 companies. API spent $8.6 million on lobbying in 2011 and in last year’s election cycle spent heavily on funding groups running political ads against Democrats and in support of Republicans.
Gerard, who is close to fellow Mormon Mitt Romney and would have wielded enormous influence in a Romney administration, epitomizes the Republican “drill, baby, drill” attitude that ignores the environmental, public health and climate consequences of pumping all that carbon into the atmosphere. With his latest comments, he is ignoring America’s long history of subsidizing Big Oil.
While Gerard, whose salary was $6.4 million in 2010, disengenously states that Big Oil doesn’t receive subsidies, API actually ran ads two years ago against the Obama administration’s proposal to end tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry.
By: Josh Marks, The National Memo, January 10, 2013
“She Will Be Heard”: Elizabeth Warren Knows Where A Lot Of The Bodies Are Buried, Puts AIG On Notice
When new members arrive in the US Senate, they are supposed to take a seat on a back bench and listen quietly for a couple of years. That is not in Elizabeth Warren’s nature. She had been a US Senator from Massachusetts for only about a week when she broke with etiquette. Warren was outraged that AIG investors were urging the insurance giant’s directors to join them in a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming damages from the federal bailout of their company during the financial crisis.
The freshman senator sent out a tartly worded statement to her many fans and followers. “AIG should thank American taxpayers for their help—not bite the hand that fed them,” Warren wrote. The message swept the blogosphere like wild fire. The AIG directors folded the next day. It is perhaps mistaken to assume her voice alone stopped this corporate ingratitude in its tracks, but that may well be the message absorbed in Washington politics. Try not to provoke this new senator, especially on the stuff she knows a lot about. She might bite back.
Indeed, Senator Warren has renewed the accusation about the AIG bailout she had made a year ago during her Senate campaign. While the Federal Reserve pumped a fortune ($182 billion) into saving AIG from failure and thereby protected Wall Street megabanks from huge losses, the Treasury Department was arranging its own “sleuth bailout,” as Warren charged. Treasury granted an exception to the standard tax rules that delivered billions more to AIG in the form of a special tax break.
The company was effectively relieved from paying any taxes despite the fact that it has returned to profitability and repaid the Federal Reserve loans. The senator called on her supporters to join a campaign to end AIG’s special tax break. “Enough is enough…,” she wrote. “These special tax giveaways give AIG a competitive advantage over its competitors—all the while inflating AIG’s profit numbers and compensation for executives.”
What separates Elizabeth Warren from your typical newcomer to Congress—in addition to the rare gutsiness—is her deep knowledge of banking and finance. For many years, while she taught at the Harvard law school, Warren was a lonely crusader, exposing predatory bankers and the cruel terms by which millions of families were driven into bankruptcy.
Her reputation led to appointment as the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel that investigated the AIG bailout in great depth. The COP final report is itself an extraordinary document of government—clear and concise, an unflinching analysis that describes exactly how the Federal Reserve and the Treasury failed to serve the public interest in their incestuous bailout of Wall Street titans.
“The AIG rescue demonstrated that Treasury and the Federal Reserve would commit taxpayers to pay any price and bear any burden to prevent the collapse of America’s largest financial institutions,” Warren’s report concluded.
She will be heard. The new senator will serve on the Senate banking committee and she already knows where a lot of the bodies are buried. I suspect some of those disgruntled AIG investors are wishing they had kept their whining to themselves.
By: William Greider, The Nation, January 10, 2013
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has a curious justification for vetoing a tax break last week for 240,000 Iowa families making $45,000 or less a year: the plan didn’t also include a tax break for corporations. Members of both partiesin the Iowa House and Senate agreed to increase the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which reduces the amount of income taxes lower-income families owe:
The change would have saved Iowa families an estimated $28.5 million in taxes over two years.
Branstad vetoed that part of the bill writing that it is his desire to approach tax policy in a more comprehensive and holistic manner. [...]
Branstad additionally campaigned last year to slash Iowa’s corporate income tax rate by 50 percent, which he said would attract businesses while costing the state about $200 million a year in lost revenue. That proposal also failed.
Ironically, given Branstad’s fondness for expensive corporate tax breaks, he said he was concerned about the cost of the measure, estimated at $28.5 million a year. Branstad explained that he would only support “an overall tax reduction package that both fits within our sound budgeting principles while reducing those taxes that are impeding our state’s ability to compete for new business and jobs.”
Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for the governor, reiterated that Branstad would have supported the tax break if it had been part of a “larger effort” that included lower taxes for corporations. But since this tax break was only for poor families, Branstad suddenly abandoned his “strong support for tax relief.”
Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D), the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, points out that the EITC “is the most effective antipoverty program for working families.” Bolkcom said of Branstad’s veto, “He has again shown that he will only consider tax cuts that benefit Iowa’s wealthiest citizens and corporations.” The tax break for working families would have translated into more money for people to spend in Iowa’s economy, but Branstad apparently prefers “huge, unaffordable tax breaks for Wal-Mart and other wealthy out-of-state corporations.”
Branstad has the authority to veto individual items in spending measures. He also effectively shut down dozens of unemployment offices by vetoing language that would have prohibited the Iowa Workforce Development from closing 37 unemployment field offices across the state.
By: Marie Diamond, Think Progress, August 3, 2011