Big Oil Welfare

GOP Tax Giveaway of the Day: Big Oil Subsidies

Oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline is coursing through the picturesque Yellowstone River as we speak, but Big Oil’s real gusher is located on Capitol Hill. Big Oil’s best friends in Congress make sure that year after year, billions of dollars in taxpayer funds flow into the coffers of the most profitable companies the world has ever known. In return, Big Oil spends millions each year to make sure that its friends keep their seats.

Here’s why it’s time to make the easiest of all choices — the one to end taxpayer-funded giveaways to Big Oil.

WHAT: Wasteful and unnecessary taxpayer subsidies for oil companies

HOW MUCH THEY WASTE: $77 BILLION from 2011-2021

WHO BENEFITS: Oil companies large and small, including the five largest oil companies who raked in $32 BILLION in profits in just the first quarter of 2011. ExxonMobil alone made nearly $11 billion in profits during the first quarter of this year.

WHO ELSE BENEFITS: Big Oil’s friends in Congress benefit from millions in campaign cash from the oil and gas industry. During the 2010 election cycle alone, the oil and gas industry pumped more than $21 MILLION into congressional campaign accounts — more than three-quarters of which went to Republicans. These same Republicans have voted repeatedly — and nearly unanimously — in favor of keeping oil subsidies over the past several months. In addition to lavish spending on direct campaign contributions, the oil and gas industry also spent a whopping $145 MILLION last year to lobby Congress.


  • The average American pays an effective federal income tax rate of 20.4 percent, while ExxonMobil had an effective tax rate of just 17.6 percent over the past three years. That is of course far below the statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent.
  • Even Big Oil CEOs themselves admit that they don’t need the subsidies. ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva told Congress: “With respect to oil and gas exploration and production, we do not need incentives.”

IN ONE SENTENCE: Instead of ending Medicare to pay for more tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires, and huge corporations, we need to end the billions in taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil.



NOTABLE QUOTABLE — former President George W. Bush: “I will tell you with $55 oil we don’t need incentives to the oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives. What we need is to put a strategy in place that will help this country over time become less dependent.” (Bush said this in 2005 when oil was around $55 a barrel; oil is currently hovering around $95 a barrel.)

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Advocacy Team