In Mario Puzo's The Godfather, a character named Don Fanucci is known as a ruthless, greedy black hand extortionist who skims a regular "protection" fee from those who operate in his neighborhood. Fanucci even threatened to disfigure the daughter of a man who refused to pay him, or allow him to "wet his beak."
Right now, Congress allows big oil companies to wet their beak with $4 billion per year in subsidies paid directly by we, the taxpayers. These are the same oil companies who are charging us $4 per gallon at the pump, making record profits every quarter, and paying $0 in taxes. In fact, ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the world and beneficiary of these subsidies, made $19 billion in profits in 2009, and received a $156 million refund check from Uncle Sam instead of paying federal taxes.
At a time when Congressional GOP leaders, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), are holding the debt ceiling hostage, demanding Medicare cuts as a ransom note, why hasn't Congress voted to stop wastefully subsidizing these tax-dodging oil companies? Big oil doesn't need taxpayer help -- in fact, ExxonMobil posted a 53 percent profit increase in January 2011, amidst skyrocketing gas prices. All taxpayers get in return is more pain at the pump, as we continue to funnel billions into the coffers of the richest corporations on record.
A common-sense legislative solution, H.R. 601, would have ended all of these subsidies for 5 years, saving taxpayers an estimated $40 billion. The extra revenue could instead be used to "uncut" budgets for programs that taxpayers actually depend on. The proposed $11.2 billion in cuts to early childhood education, $4.1 billion in job training programs for the unemployed, and $4.6 billion in teacher training and after school programs could all be reversed if we simply ended the parasitic relationship between tax-dodging oil companies and the taxpayers they're bleeding dry.
Instead, Republicans voted NO to ending these subsidies, while simultaneously asking for more harmful budget cuts and rolling back Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Why are we asking seniors to foot the bill by cutting back on their health care, instead of ending oil subsidies? Why is President Obama discussing cuts to Social Security instead of demanding Republicans stop subsidizing big oil's greed? Why are teachers, cops and firefighters being laid off while oil companies like ExxonMobil sucking up billions in taxpayer dollars? Why are we giving away valuable taxpayer money to companies that are charging folks an arm and a leg every time we fill up?
When a caller confronted Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) on the Jim Bohannon shown last night, he went on record stating he would be for ending energy subsidies and closing corporate tax loopholes. Its time for Congress to put our money where their mouth is, stand up for their constituents and end the bailouts for big oil.
Our leaders need to have the spine to say no to Fanucci when he asks to wet his beak on the taxpayers' dime, and demand that these tax-dodging oil companies pay their fair share just like the rest of us.