Big Oil Keeps Their $35 Billion in Tax Breaks

By Alex Pepper

Jun 15, 2010 2:46pm

UPDATE: Not all bad news for Big Oil on Capitol Hill today. Senators just voted 35-61 against stripping big oil companies of $35 billion in tax breaks they’ll get over the next ten years. (More than ten Democrats voted with Republicans.) ABC's Z. Byron Wolf reports: Big Oil executives are getting an earful from Congressmen who want to know why they aren’t better prepared to handle an oil spill. But what about the tax breaks oil companies get from the government to produce the oil in the first place? Over in the Senate, some Democrats want to take away the $35 billion in tax breaks that oil companies will get from the US government over the next ten years. The proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, would strip tax production credits from oil producers and place the proceeds toward paying down the deficit and promoting energy efficiency. He wants to attach the measure to a long-stalled proposal to extend unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies through much of the year and prevent Medicare doctors from getting a pay cut. The bill also includes extensions of many tax credits for businesses. It would add $85 billion to the deficit. “We have record-breaking deficits” yelled Sanders on the Senate floor. “We have a $13 trillion national debt and ExxonMobil receives $156 million in a tax refund after making $19 billion in profit. Mr. president, this has got to stop,” he said. Sanders was standing next to a large fake IRS rebate check to ExxonMobil for the amount of $156,000,000. Sanders had matching checks for Chevron – $19 million, Valero – $157 million and others. President Obama has endorsed rolling back the tax credits as part of his 2011 Budget proposal and begun pushing the issue in recent days. But it is not clear that there are 60 votes to roll back the tax credits for oil companies in the Senate. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, objected to an immediate vote on Sanders’ proposal. Inhofe said the amendment needs to be changed. He said many smaller oil producers would be hurt and there are many smaller oil producers in Inhofe’s state.

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