Cardin looks to eliminate oil tax breaks
As Senate Democrats prepare to hold a vote this week on whether to end taxpayer subsidies for the nation’s largest oil companies, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin carried the party’s message to a Shell station on Russell Street in Baltimore on Monday.
“At a time of soaring gas prices and record budget deficits, we need to end $4 billion a year in subsidies for the big-five oil companies,” said the Maryland Democrat, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “Americans should not be footing the bill for big oil, which has made nearly $1 trillion in profits over the last decade.”
Democrats across the country have been pounding on the perennial issue in an attempt to corner Republicans who have argued against any tax increases to close the nation’s burgeoning budget deficit. The Senate is expected to vote on the proposal later this week.
The Democratic legislation would end annual subsidies for Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Conoco Phillips. Last week, Cardin co-signed a letter asking the oil companies to admit that they no longer need the tax breaks.
“It’s a question of fairness,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said during a floor speech Monday. “The bonus checks taxpayers are writing to big oil are absurd and obscene. They defy common sense.”
Republicans and business groups have opposed new taxes, noting the economy's slow recovery. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to senators Monday arguing that “levying new taxes and fees on America’s oil and gas industry would increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil, increase costs to consumers, jeopardize U.S. jobs, and erode economic competitiveness.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found last week that eliminating the tax breaks for oil companies would not have an impact on prices at the pump. “Prices are well in excess of costs and a small increase in taxes would be less likely to reduce oil output, and hence increase …gasoline prices,” according to the report.
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Maryland is $4.002, according to AAA.