Last week, I said that if Congress has to make cuts, we should embrace the idea of ridding ourselves of wasteful giveaways to the fossil fuel industry. Here's an idea. Let's cut the Master Limited Partnership loophole and fossil fuel subsidies.
The Master Limited Partnership is an obscure but harmful multibillion dollar loophole that allows fossil fuel companies to avoid all income taxes on transportation or processing of fossil fuels -- things like oil pipelines. Renewable energy companies don't have the same option, meaning the taxpayer is subsidizing polluters at the expense of cleaner, renewable energy. The total cost to the taxpayer? $2.4 billion dollars every 5 years. Now, some folks propose to extend the Master Limited Partnership to green industries. That's fine, but what about leveling the playing field and cutting the deficit at the same?
The Master Limited Partnership is just one example of the billions of dollars in handouts that polluters get from Congress. For instance, BP was able to deduct nearly $10 billion from cleaning up its own mess in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the next 10 years, fossil fuel companies will receive over $110 billion in taxpayer giveaways. Ending these subsidies would recoup the $12 billion fossil fuel companies will be able to deduct by claiming they are manufacturers, and the almost $11 billion we will lose from free leases to drill on public land.
With all the chatter in Washington, it is easy to miss what is really at stake. The debate is about our country's future; it's about fairness; it's about whether we invest in jobs or tax breaks for hedge fund managers, polluters and already profitable industries. It's about whether we level the playing field for sustainable energy or continue to give unnecessary and harmful tax breaks to oil companies who have been making record profits -- and not paying their fair share.
It's time for Republicans in Congress to put their money where their mouth is. Middle class families should not be forced to scrape by with less while oil companies get away with more. Any cuts we make should reflect our priorities and needs as a country. Rather than cutting important lifelines like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, let's cut corporate tax loopholes like the Master Limited Partnership.. The five largest oil companies made more than $1 trillion in profits in the last decade. They don't need our help.
UPDATE: Many of you asked how we can end wasteful tax breaks like the Master Limited Partnership. I introduced a bill with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). You can find out more here.
Follow Rep. Keith Ellison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/keithellison